Businesses aren’t the only ones taking environmental action these days. Universities are also setting carbon reduction goals to bolster sustainability performance. An area of emerging focus is thermal energy, specifically emissions generated from heating-related activities. Whether in the classroom, library, dining halls or dormitories, heating needs are responsible for a significant portion of a university’s environmental footprint. So, what can be done?
Understand your options.
Three renewable thermal energy solutions exist that can lower thermal energy emissions from your campus.
1. Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a readily available solution that comes without infrastructure costs and is available regardless of weather conditions. RNG is made from decomposing waste at farms, landfills, food waste collection areas and wastewater treatment plants. The benefit? It’s already in existing natural gas pipelines, where you’re likely drawing heat from today.
2. Solar power, which is energy harvested from solar collectors, can be used to heat buildings, water and various processes. However, the downside to this is your energy production could be limited by land availability/roof size and weather conditions.
3. Geothermal energy is another option. It’s the process of generating electricity by using heat from deep inside the Earth to generate steam, ultimately creating electricity used to heat water and buildings. This is a relatively new solution and can come with some costly start-up projects.
Although several options are available, RNG is the latest innovation to hit the renewable thermal energy market, offering your campus the greatest value. Why? Two reasons.
1. RNG is clean, producing desirable emission benefits.
In response to conversations regarding sustainability and emission reductions, many are beginning to look for alternative sources capable of meeting their heating needs. While other solutions provide emission benefits as they’re used, RNG improves air quality in both production and use. This is because upstream as RNG is made, methane related emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases are captured, cleaned and conditioned — resulting in pipeline ready RNG, without fossil-based characteristics.
In addition to emissions being adverted during the development process, your campus, students and community will subsequently benefit from cleaner air. Furthermore, utilizing RNG will serve as a differentiator for your campus during recruitment: potentially, it could even be the deciding factor for some students when choosing between your university and another. Not only will you be able to speak to your sustainable practices but can deliver unrivaled results that students are starting to demand.
2. RNG is easily implementable.
Between providing resources to students, maintaining facilities and completing necessary administrative duties, the last thing your university needs is a solution that requires infrastructure additions, modifications or related uncertainties. Selecting RNG for your thermal needs is not only an easy, proven solution, but the only requirements are paperwork — the kind we fill out for you.
As mentioned above, RNG is injected into existing natural gas pipelines for distribution — likely, the same pipelines your buildings are currently drawing from for heating applications. This is an important distinction for many universities seeing how space is often limited or already allocated for student housing, recreational spaces or academic buildings. Seeing no infrastructure modifications are necessary, not only are disruptions to the on-campus flow for students avoided, but costs are saved from not having to budget additional funding for new infrastructure builds – allowing you to reinvest that money into your campus through other channels.
Want to learn more?
Reach out — we’d love to discuss more about your sustainability goals and if renewable natural gas might be appropriate for your university. And if so, we’ll help you develop a plan for adoption, ensuring a seamless transition.