ENERGY

AT DARTMOUTH

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ENERGY METRICS

Dartmouth College is committed to transforming its energy systems to the lowest cost, best low carbon future.  Dartmouth will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by maximizing efficiency and minimizing energy demand in buildings, delivering energy efficiently to buildings, developing a low carbon energy supply, including renewables.

 

Explore our progress in our interactive data dashboard below. 

DATA DASHBOARD NOTES: This data dashboard displays Dartmouth's annual greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption for fiscal years (FY) 2008-2018. Dartmouth's fiscal year runs from July 1-June 30. The data displayed are subject to change. We are actively working to improve the quality of our data and capture as complete a picture as possible of our total waste footprint on campus. 

For more information on Dartmouth's greenhouse gas emissions, see our FY18 Greenhouse Gas Report or interact with the dashboard above. You can click on the different parts of the figure, modify the years of data displayed, share the dashboard with others or download the data using the small small icons in the lower right-hand corner of the dashboard. Note that in order to download some of the data, you must first click on the specific figure then the download icon.

DARTMOUTH'S ENERGY FUTURE

Finding sustainable ways to generate energy is one of the great challenges of the next 50 years. As a microcosm of the world, Dartmouth has an opportunity to meet this challenge, here.

 

In 1898, Dartmouth opened its central energy plant, which burned coal and oil to generate heat and electricity for our small campus. This process also generated greenhouse gas emissions. We still do things more or less the same way we did then. Since 2010, the Dartmouth Sustainability Office has been working with partners across campus to help imagine a new Dartmouth energy system, one that is rooted in our unique setting and minimizes our negative impacts to the region and the planet. A 2016-17 sustainability strategic planning initiative resulted in the Our Green Future Report, setting ambitious new sustainability goals for Dartmouth. Guided by these goals, we have identified what we see as the path forward.

 

Now, it’s time to get rolling! We want to share our excitement and give you an inside look at Dartmouth’s energy future.

HOW DOES DARTMOUTH'S ENERGY SYSTEM WORK NOW?

Since 1898, Dartmouth has generated its heat at the central power plant. Since 1905, we have used co-generation in the power plant to produce about 1/4 of our electricity as a by-product of the heating process. Heat is generated by burning No. 6 fuel oil to produce steam. No. 6 fuel oil, also known as residual oil, is the heavy, dirty residue that is left after other products, such as gasoline, have been distilled from crude oil. Steam produced by burning this oil is distributed to campus buildings through a network of underground pipes and is used for heating. . In addition to consuming about 3.5 million gallons of No. 6 Fuel Oil each year (about the equivalent of the annual oil consumption of 5,800 homes) we also purchase about 50,000 MWh a year of electricity from the grid. This is equivalent to the annual average electricity consumption of approximately 4,800 American homes.

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THIS ENERGY TRANSFORMATION?

In April of 2017, President Hanlon set Dartmouth on a bold course towards sustainability  leadership by adopting a new set of goals for Dartmouth. These include goals to improve energy efficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To meet these goals, we must transform Dartmouth’s energy system, which produces the majority of our direct greenhouse gas emissions. Our eyes are firmly set on the long-term goal of reducing the College’s entire carbon footprint by 80% and sourcing 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2050.


Implicit in our specific goals is a commitment to be a responsible environmental steward. Dartmouth’s identity is deeply rooted in our sense of place. To reference our motto, a voice cried out in this particular wilderness. The granite, forests and rivers of New Hampshire and the hills of Vermont help create the educational terroir that defines the Dartmouth experience. As a community, we feel a special responsibility to nurture the people and the environment of the Upper Valley and to be stewards of this landscape.

WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR DARTMOUTH’S ENERGY TRANSFORMATION?

FIRST PRIORITY

First, we must address our leaky, antiquated, and expensive steam distribution system. By making the transition to a hot water distribution system, we will make our energy system 20% more efficient. In addition, hot water distribution allows us to be more flexible about how we generate heat, enabling us to adopt new technologies as they become available so that we may eventually transition away from combustion altogether.

 

SECOND PRIORITY

Next, we must change how we generate the hot water needed to heat our campus. It takes an incredibly energy-dense fuel source, like No. 6 fuel oil, to generate steam for heat distribution. Hot water heating, by comparison, requires a much less energy-dense fuel. This will allow us to swap out the No. 6 fuel oil in our system for a  locally produced energy source: woody biomass.

Dartmouth’s energy future will include the construction of a new power plant, fueled by woody biomass, to generate hot water to be distributed campus for heating in a more efficient, less expensive, and easier to maintain piping system. We also plan to convert the heating systems within buildings to hot water, creating better temperature control within buildings resulting in further improvements in energy efficiency.

 

LONG-TERM AMBITION

To reach our long term, ambitious goals, we will likely have to transition away from generating heat with combustion, period. There is no way to combust a fuel and not produce greenhouse gases. How could Dartmouth generate heat without combustion? We would have to use electricity to generate heat in efficient (and in some cases, cutting edge) ways such as using ground source heat pumps. We know that transitioning away from combustion does not mean we will have no impact, but, while consuming electricity still has negative impacts, it enables us to transition to renewable generation and to maximize energy consumed per unit of greenhouse gas emissions produced. However,  we have assessed how quickly we could move to zero combustion and it appears that is is not feasible in the near term, both from an economic and an engineering perspective.

WHAT HAS DARTMOUTH DONE TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY?

The best way to reduce the impact of energy consumption is reduce the amount we need. In 2008, Dartmouth hired an engineering consultant to assess the cost effective opportunities to improve energy efficiency. There were many! First, we outfitted all of our buildings with smart meters and sensors that detect the performance of the energy equipment. Next we began working our way down a priority list of energy efficiency projects. By completing these projects, we have reduced our energy consumption 18% since 2010. This is an improvement of 24% from our all time high energy consumption in 2005.

 

And, we’re not done yet! We have identified more projects which will reduce the amount of energy we need and are moving ahead on a plan to invest $20 million more to make those improvements. The kinds of projects we focus on have a high return in energy saved for each dollar invested. Some examples of common projects include capturing waste heat, upgrading lighting, installing heat exchangers, switching from steam driven chilling to electric chilling and replacing leaking or failing equipment. We strongly believe that efficiency should be our first priority.

WHAT OTHER ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES HAS DARTMOUTH CONSIDERED?

Since 2010, Dartmouth has done an exhaustive assessment of ways to transform our energy system to a greener, leaner one. We have investigated nearly every possible way to meet our energy demand. Some have been mainstream and well understood such as a feasibility study we completed to assess the viability of natural gas at Dartmouth. Others have been experimental, such as exploring using glacial eskers (a common feature of local geology) to store water like a large thermal battery. Some have been mainstream in other locations such as using solar thermal to preheat or completely heat water. In each case, we applied the same criteria: we were seeking solutions that helped us meet sustainability goals in ways that are financially efficient. We also were seeking to maximize the local benefit and reduce the local harm of Dartmouth’s energy system.

HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ME AND THE TOWN OF HANOVER?

We’ve thought about this question a lot. We hope that this project will, in the long run, have many benefits for Hanover and the people who live here. In the short term, we know that it’s going to cause some inconvenience. Transitioning to hot water will mean a lot of annoying construction along roads and sidewalks. There is no good way to make it painless but we hope to plan well and reduce the hassle as much as possible. At the same time, we will be able to transform the current area in campus that is dedicated to our energy plant and oil storage into something that is more suitable for the middle of town. And it will be nice to reduce emissions of particulates and pollutants in downtown Hanover where we all breathe the air.

HOW WILL THIS SUPPORT HANOVER’S SUSTAINABILITY GOALS?

Dartmouth’s energy transition will reduce its emissions 70% in the near- to mid-term and will significantly increase the renewability of our energy supply. As a large energy consumer in the town of Hanover, we hope this move will significantly advance Hanover towards its goal of 100% renewable energy supply by 2050. Dartmouth’s upgraded energy system will be significantly more agile and able to take advantage of future technologies that will help Hanover reach its 2050 goal.

TACTIC: HOT WATER

Right now, we use steam as the mechanism to move heat from the central energy plant to buildings where it makes everything toasty. Steam is not the most efficient way to move heat. (Interestingly, when we investigate why Dartmouth started using steam in the first place, the answer was, essentially, that steam was cutting edge in 1898 and everyone wanted to try it out! We see this as a cautionary tale…)

 

Steam is not the most efficient way to move heat for several reasons: steam is thermally unstable. It must be moved under significant pressure. And both steam itself and it’s condensate can be corrosive, causing wear on piping. All of this means that maintaining our steam lines, many of which are greater than 50 years old, is an expensive and intensive process.

Instead of using steam, we are going to transition to hot water as the way to move heat around the campus. This will improve our efficiency by about 20% and it will greatly improve our flexibility and adaptability to use future technologies.

 

Hot water piping is inexpensive, easy to replace and hot water is less corrosive than steam. Hot water enables greater flexibility at both ends of the pipe, meaning we can generate hot water in a variety of ways and we can use it a variety of ways. All in all, it is a very logical and, over time, cost effective way for us to improve efficiency, reduce cost and maximize our flexibility.

TACTIC: BIOMASS

We investigated many heat-generating energy systems that advance Dartmouth towards its sustainability goals. As we did this, we realized we knew very little about the supply chain of our oil. This is in part because the structure of oil refining and production makes traceability difficult; therefore we began exploring energy sources with transparent supply chains. Our energy supply chain was also connecting us to a global commodity, oil, that has notoriously volatile prices and supply. On top of that, our greenhouse gas emissions goals are not achievable using oil.

 

In every region, some energy sources are more locally viable and sustainable than others. In our region, wood (in the form of wood chips) is readily available, fairly inexpensive and can be sourced sustainably.

 

While we know that woody biomass is not a zero carbon fuel, we also see an opportunity to develop a renewable fuel with a sustainable supply chain. In addition, as we explored local wood markets, we started to see that consuming biomass might provide an opportunity for Dartmouth to support local economies and our neighbors in the Upper Valley.

 

In order to supply 100% of Dartmouth’s thermal energy needs, we would need to consume about 40,000 green tons of biomass each year. Extensive analysis and consultation with industry experts indicates that this quantity is a readily and sustainably available in existing timber production within a 90 minute drive time of our campus.  Dartmouth’s total consumption would be less than 3.3% of the annual 1.8 million green tons of suitable, low grade woody biomass available within this radius. In addition, many of the wood fired power plants in our region are going offline, reducing the market for low grade biomass that is already being pulled from forests as a byproduct of harvests targeted at high grade wood. Dartmouth’s demand for biomass would increase revenue for the local timber industry.

 

The type of biomass we choose to buy is of critical importance: biomass that is not sustainably harvested will not advance us towards our sustainability goals. So, right now, we are working to develop biomass sourcing criteria that ensure we are holding ourselves to a very high standard.

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HOW DOES DARTMOUTH'S ENERGY SYSTEM WORK NOW?

 

Since 1898, Dartmouth has generated our heat at the central power plant. Since 1905, we have used co-generation in the power plant to produce about 1/4 of our electricity as a by-product of the heating process. Heat is generated by burning Number 6 fuel oil to produce steam. Number 6 fuel oil, also known as residual oil, is the heavy, dirty residue that is left after other products such as gasoline have been distilled from crude oil. Heat produced by burning this oil is distributed to buildings around campus via a network of underground piping. This steam is then used to heat buildings. In addition to consuming about 3.5 million gallons of Number 6 Fuel Oil per year (about the equivalent of the annual oil consumption of 5,800 homes) we also purchase about 50,000 MWh a year of electricity from the grid. This is equivalent to the annual average electricity consumption of approximately 4,800 American homes.

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WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THIS ENERGY TRANSFORMATION?

 

In April of 2017, President Hanlon set Dartmouth on a bold course towards sustainability leadership by adopting a new set of goals for Dartmouth. These include goals to improve energy efficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To meet these goals, we must transform Dartmouth’s energy system, which produces the majority of our direct greenhouse gas emissions. Our eyes are firmly set on the long-term goal of an 80% carbon reduction by 2050 with 100% of our energy sourced renewably. Implicit in our specific goals is a commitment to be a responsible environmental steward. Dartmouth’s identity is deeply rooted in our sense of place. To reference our motto, a voice cried out in this particular wilderness. The granite, forests and rivers of New Hampshire and the hills of Vermont help create the educational terroir that defines the Dartmouth experience. As a community, we feel a special responsibility to nurture the people and the environment of the Upper Valley and to be stewards of this landscape.

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WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR DARTMOUTH'S ENERGY TRANSFORMATION?

 

 

FIRST PRIORITY

First, we must address our leaky, antiquated and expensive steam distribution system. By converting to a hot water system, we will make our energy system 20% more efficient. In addition, hot water allows us to be more flexible about how we generate heat, enabling us to adopt new technologies as they come on line and enabling our eventual transition away from combustion.

SECOND PRIORITY

Next, we must change how we generate the hot water needed to heat our campus. Generating hot water requires fuel that is less energy intensive. This enables us to use a wider variety of fuels. Our plan is to connect new technologies that generate hot water to a distribution system that is efficient, less expensive, and easier to maintain. We also plan to convert the heating systems within buildings to hot water, creating better temperature control and improving efficiency.

LONG-TERM AMBITION

To reach our long term, ambitious goals, we will likely have to transition away from generating heat with combustion, period. There is no way to combust a fuel and not produce greenhouse gases. How could Dartmouth generate heat without combustion? We would have to use electricity to generate heat in efficient (and in some cases, cutting edge) ways such as using ground source heat pumps. We know that transitioning away from combustion does not mean we will have no impact, but, while consuming electricity still has negative impacts, it enables us to transition to renewable generation and to maximize energy consumed per unit of greenhouse gas emissions produced. However,  we have assessed how quickly we could move to zero combustion and it appears that is is not feasible in the near term, both from an economic and an engineering perspective.

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WHAT HAS DARTMOUTH DONE TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY?

The best way to reduce the impact of energy consumption is reduce the amount we need.  In 2008, Dartmouth hired an engineering consultant to assess the cost effective opportunities to improve energy efficiency. There were many! First, we outfitted all of our buildings with smart meters and sensors that detect the performance of the energy equipment. Next we began working our way down a priority list of energy efficiency projects. By completing these projects, we have reduced our energy consumption 18% since 2010. This is an improvement of 24% from our all time high energy consumption in 2005.

And, we’re not done yet! We have identified more projects which will reduce the amount of energy we need and are moving ahead on a plan to invest $20 million more to make those improvements. The kinds of projects we focus on have a high return in energy saved for each dollar invested. Some of examples of common  projects include capturing waste heat, upgrading lighting, installing heat exchangers, switching from steam driven chilling to electric chilling and replacing leaking or failing equipment. We strongly believe that efficiency should be our first priority.

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WHAT OTHER ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES HAS DARTMOUTH CONSIDERED?

Since 2010, Dartmouth has done an exhaustive assessment of ways to transform our energy system to a greener, leaner one. We have investigated nearly every possible way to meet our energy demand. Some have been mainstream and well understood such as a feasibility study we completed to assess the viability of natural gas at Dartmouth. Others have been experimental, such as exploring using glacial eskers (a common feature of local geology) to store water like a large thermal battery. Some have been mainstream in other locations such as using solar thermal to pre-heat or completely heat water. In each case, we applied the same criteria: we were seeking solutions that helped us meet sustainability goals in ways that are financially efficient. We also were seeking to maximize the local benefit and reduce the local harm of Dartmouth’s energy system.

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HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ME AND THE TOWN OF HANOVER?

We’ve thought about this question a lot. We hope that this project will, in the long run, have many benefits for Hanover and the people who live here. In the short term, we know that it’s going to cause some inconvenience. Transitioning to hot water will mean a lot of annoying construction along roads and sidewalks. There is no good way to make it painless but we hope to plan well and reduce the hassle as much as possible. At the same time, we will be able to transform the current area in campus that is dedicated to our energy plant and oil storage into something that is more suitable for the middle of town. And it will be nice to reduce emissions of particulates and pollutants in downtown Hanover where we all breathe the air.

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HOW WILL THIS SUPPORT HANOVER'S SUSTAINABILITY GOALS?

 

Dartmouth’s energy transition will reduce its emissions 70% in the near- to mid-term and will significantly increase the renewability of our energy supply. As a large energy consumer in the town of Hanover, we hope this move will significantly advance Hanover towards its goal of 100% renewable energy supply by 2050. Dartmouth’s upgraded energy system will be significantly more agile and able to take advantage of future technologies that will help Hanover reach its 2050 goal.

uparrow.png

TACTIC: HOT WATER

Right now, we use steam as the mechanism to move heat from the central energy plant to buildings where it makes everything toasty. Steam is not the most efficient way to move heat. (Interestingly, when we investigate why Dartmouth started using steam in the first place, the answer was, essentially, that steam was cutting edge in 1898 and everyone wanted to try it out! We see this as a cautionary tale…)

Steam is not the most efficient way to move heat for several reasons:  steam is thermally unstable. It must be moved under significant pressure. And both steam itself and it’s condensate can be corrossive, causing wear on piping. All of this means that maintaining our steam lines, many of which are greater than 50 years old, is an expensive and intensive process.

Instead of using steam, we are going to transition to hot water as the way to move heat around the campus. This will improve our efficiency by about 20% and it will greatly improve our flexibility and adaptability to use future technologies.

Hot water piping is inexpensive, easy to replace and hot water is less corrosive than steam. Hot water enables greater flexibility at both ends of the pipe, meaning we can generate hot water in a variety of ways and we can use it an variety of ways. All in all, it is a very logical and, over time, cost effective way for us to improve efficiency, reduce cost and maximize our flexibility.

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TACTIC: BIOMASS

We have tried to investigate every viable possibility for how we can generate heat in a way that advances us towards our sustainability goals. As we did this, we realized we knew very little about the supply chain of our oil. This is in part because the structure of oil refining and production making traceability difficult. We became interested in energy supplies that enabled us to have transparency into the supply chain. We also realized our supply chain was connecting us to a global commodity that is notoriously volatile. And our greenhouse gas emissions goals are not achievable using oil.

In every region, some energy sources are more locally viable and sustainable than others. In our region, wood (in the form of wood chips) is readily available, fairly inexpensive and can be sourced sustainably.