Green energy initiatives grow with UConn’s new steam-powered capabilities 

UConn is working towards creating a more sustainable campus. Photo by Narcisa Acik/Pexels.

A newly finished steam line at the University of Connecticut’s Supplemental Utility Plant (SUP) marks a promising step toward the university’s “ultimate goal” of zero carbon emissions by 2040.  

Located in the Northwest Science Quad (NWSQ), the SUP is now equipped with steam cogeneration facilities, infrastructure that has widespread implications for the campus’s projected green future. 

“Cogeneration is the use of one unit of fuel to create two or more useful products. An example is one unit of natural gas or hydrogen, which then produces electricity and thermal output as either heat or cooling,” said Stanley Nolan, the interim associate vice president of facilities operations. 

 “This is extremely efficient and reduces overall emissions by around 33%.” 

Nolan is a member of the President’s Carbon Reduction Working Group, a task force dedicated to the mission of clean energy. The team has a series of projects in development to further their sustainability goals, including the installation of solar panels over bus stops and parking lots and the mass transition to LED lighting across the Storrs campus. 

Elizabeth Craun, a Carbon Reduction Group member and the director of major projects in the University Planning, Design and Construction department, oversees all development of the NWSQ. 

“Science 1, the first building in the NWSQ, has a 500 kW/0.5 MW solar rooftop array. All roof space not otherwise needed for safety, maintenance, access, or HVAC equipment was utilized for solar generation.  Science 1 will be LEED Gold certified and is proceeding towards SITES certification,” Craun said. 

Although these steps show progress for UConn’s ambitions of greenhouse gas reduction, many are dissatisfied with the university’s actions to date. President Radenka Maric has yet to release the purported “Sustainability Action Plan,” and many are dubious about the university’s true commitment to meeting their emissions targets.  

Administration has largely eluded direct lines of questioning regarding their sustainability measures, with a Nov. 2 sustainability town hall ending without the chance for audience members to ask questions as promised. 

Prominent student action groups, including Fossil Free UConn, have made their voices known, with the aforementioned organization holding a rally earlier this week. It is the hope of many that these budding initiatives in steam and solar mature to make UConn a leader in renewable energy. 

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