Do It In The Dark! 2014 – Plymouth State’s Residence Energy Conservation Competition Begins Oct. 1st!

September 18th, 2013 by Brian

“Do It In The Dark” is the energy savings competition between residence halls at PSU and is back for its seventh year! Do It In The Dark was created by students at PSU in 2007 and runs from October 1st through November 30th.  It is an annual contest in which the traditional residence halls compete to see who can save the most energy by making conscious efforts to lower consumption and improve energy conservation. The winning residence hall wins ½ price laundry for the month of February! Save energy this year and help us be more sustainable!

Students in the residence halls can work together to try and save as much energy as possible, and the idea is that with the incentive to make some changes we can learn practices that can save us money and help us live more sustainably for a lifetime. Doing simple things like turning off unused appliances, TVs, and game consoles can make a big difference. People interested in being more dedicated can take steps like plugging electronics into a power strip that can be turned off when they are not in use, which eliminates “vampire draw”, which is also called standby power.

“Vampire draw” is the electricity consumed by a device when it is turned off. For example, your television consumes electricity as it waits for you to hit the “on” button on your remote. Similarly your stereo, coffee maker, garage-door opener, microwave oven, clock radio and other electronics are drawing power even when not in use. Yes, even chargers for cell phones and MP3 players siphon energy when plugged in – even if they’re not charging a thing. These kinds of devices have a hidden energy cost that most people are never even aware of. Nationally, phantom loads make up about six percent of our energy consumption. This translates into billions of dollars spent and significant amounts of pollution emitted into our air. ( So this fall unplug, unplug, unplug and save your residence hall some energy!

The “Do It In the Dark” competition is a cooperative effort by the Office of Environmental Sustainability, The Office of Residential Life, and Physical Plant. These groups work together to publicize the event, create awareness of energy conservation measures students can take in their own lives, and track the amount of energy consumed by the resident halls each week to see who can save the most.

The residence hall that saves the most energy wins half price laundry for the month of February, and all students know those savings are significant! Thanks go to the Laundry Equipment Company (LECO) of Manchester, NH for their support of this sustainability initiative at Plymouth State University. Do your part to help your hall win!



Meet the 2013-2014 Office of Environmental Sustainability at Plymouth State University!

September 16th, 2013 by Brian

Sustainability and environmental awareness and activism have a long history at Plymouth State University, and we are excited to work hard to become even more sustainable in the 2013-2014 academic year!

Sustainability at PSU is a part of everyone’s work, and the Office of Environmental Sustainability exists to focus on sustainability issues, help others lessen their environmental impacts, coordinate our University wide efforts, and report on what we accomplish to our campus community and beyond. We work with faculty, staff, and students alike on many different projects, and hope to have a chance to talk to you about sustainability at PSU this year.

Aside from concerns about the environment and a desire to ensure future generations have the resources needed for social and economic security, why should a university care about sustainability? One critical reason is that it matters to the most important constituency we serve, our students. An institution of higher learning’s commitment to sustainability is an increasingly important factor in students’ choice of where to attend college, and Plymouth State University continues to make efforts to make its campus and operations more sustainable.  “College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” said Robert Franek, Senior VP/Publisher, The Princeton Review. “Among 7,445 college applicants who participated in our 2012 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,’ nearly 7 out of 10 (68 percent) told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school,” (Green Guide Press Release. 2012. The Princeton Review. 20 Nov. 2012. At PSU our commitment to sustainability is strong, and our efforts involve students, staff, and faculty from all parts of the campus community.

In The Office of Environmental Sustainability at Plymouth State University we work closely with these diverse members of the campus community to meet our University goal to make Plymouth State University carbon neutral by the year 2050, and to improve our relationship with the environment as a whole. Our efforts are conducted in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students, and our project partners include the Office of Residential Life and Physical Plant, both of whom are strong supporters of sustainability. The work we do is grounded efforts to raise awareness and promote more sustainable practices on campus both in and outside of the workplace through behavior change and infrastructure improvement. Our goal is not only to make the campus more sustainable, but also to educate our faculty, staff, and students in ways to live more sustainably that will last a lifetime and extend far beyond campus.

Currently, we are working on many projects and events to achieve these goals. For example on October first our annual “Do it in the Dark” energy saving competition between residence halls begins. The contest started in 2007, and is one of the older campus energy use reduction competitions in the nation. The residence hall that saves the most electricity receives half-price laundry for the month of February, and students’ electricity conservation in the past has been impressive. Last year’s winner was Belknap Hall, and residents reduced electricity consumption by almost 20% during the competition! Here’s looking forward to another good year.

We are hard at work on many projects, including offering a campus Green Office Program that helps interested departments and offices identify ways to voluntarily improve their sustainability through a facilitated examination of everyday practices. We are also working throughout the year on reducing the use of bottles water on campus, and encouraging various forms of conversation through education and programming. In the spring we will participate again in Recyclemania, a national recycling competition, and we are also working to increase the number of classes about sustainability being taught on campus.  These are just examples of a few of the activities we are engaged in, and we hope you have a chance to see you at one of our events this year!

The Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) is located in EcoHouse, and the work is conducted by the Director of OES and a number of student employees. Engaging students in experiential education through participation in campus sustainability efforts is one of the tenets used to guide the efforts of OES, and we are fortunate to work with many talented students. In 2013-2014 the graduate assistant working in OES is Melissa Leszek, a graduate student in the Environmental Science and Policy Program, and student employees include Caitlyn Kearny as the Competitions Coordinator, and Justin Hurd, Patricia Manning, and Brandon Lehman and program coordinators who conducting outreach on sustainability issues in residence halls and across campus in collaboration with other departments and offices on campus. Steve Whitman and Brian Eisenhauer are co-directors of the EcoHouse project, and Brian Eisenhauer has the pleasure of serving as the Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability.

We will continue to provide resources to help the campus community be more sustainable, and if you have questions about our sustainability efforts at Plymouth State University please contact OES and we’ll do our best to respond quickly.

We look forward to working with you to achieve a sustainable Plymouth State University!

Report to Plymouth State University Community Energy Strategy and Carbon Reduction Update: Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Thermal Project (2013)

April 10th, 2013 by Brian


Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Thermal Project – Plymouth State University (2013) 


Plymouth State University is committed to the pursuit of environmental sustainability and to identifying efficient ways to achieve goals for campus operations. In addition, as a public institution, the University has a responsibility to ensure that financial decisions made balance diverse goals.

For the last several years, the University has been exploring multiple energy strategies which lower overall energy costs and makes progress towards carbon neutrality, as reflected in the Climate Action Plan (CAP), as part of the President’s Climate Commitment signed in May 2007. Some of the strategies considered were leading edge ideas as well as proven biomass alternatives.

The primary campus group charged with studying and recommending energy alternatives is a group called the Energy Committee with member ship from various segments of the campus including: Physical Plant, Finance Office, Office of Sustainability, Purchasing, and our Co-Gen Plant Contractor – Noresco. This group meets bi-weekly and has done the bulk of the work to explore energy alternatives for the campus.

Next fall, the University will be converting the Co-Generation plant from diesel fuel (#6) to Compressed Natural Gas as our primary source of fuel in heating the campus. The rest of the document explains the strategy and expected outcomes.

Strategy and Outcomes 

There are several motivations for this change including cost savings and improving our institution’s relationship with the environment to achieve our goal to cut carbon emissions to address global warming. Compressed natural gas (CNG) will be used as a transition fuel to achieve these cost and environmental goals in the short term, with a conversion to a biomass fuel source as the long-term strategy for thermal generation on campus. Biogas from dairy farms and various biomass energy sources were extensively explored as alternative fuels for the thermal plant, but for a variety of reasons were not a feasible option at this time for the University. Converting our thermal generation to CNG will allow us to achieve significant cost savings while reducing both our pollutant load and our carbon emissions.

The decision to use CNG as a fuel source was a complex one that involved many considerations, including extensive discussions of issues associated with the production of the fuel including fracking. In short, the decision was made to move ahead with the project even in light of these concerns because of the following major considerations: 3

• The current funding climate. Conversion to a less expensive fuel will generate budget savings that can fund the capital needs as well as provide additional resources for strategic campus priorities.

• The conversion brings financial savings to Plymouth State University that can help control tuition costs; projected project payback is less than one year.

• The negative environmental impacts of our current fuel source (Fuel oil #6) are significant and an alternative fuel is critical to meet long-term sustainability goals.

• The EPA is changing air quality rules to make #6 fuel oil even more expensive to use because of its heavy pollutant load.

• Converting to CNG reduces our carbon footprint by about 12% and an energy solution is critical to reaching the long-term goal of carbon neutrality.

• CNG is firmly viewed as a transition fuel to biomass for the institution, and the infrastructure being used in the project reflects that decision.

• Greener U, the sustainability consulting firm in the Master Planning process, has reviewed the plan and identified it as a sound one for reaching our institutional goals.

Our current fuel source is extremely polluting in both emissions and its production, so despite continuing concerns about fracking, the benefits of the project clearly outweigh the benefits of the status quo. Most of our CNG fuel will be coming from pipeline gas transported from Canada which does not use fracking as an extraction method.

There will be some construction activity this summer near the Co-Gen plant to allow for CNG fuel trucks to deliver their fuel directly to the plant. Further, the University has engaged energy consultants and contractors to properly design the systems to accept and process the fuel as well as meet all safety and code requirements.

This technology is called a “virtual pipeline” as pipeline gas is transported to the location as opposed to tapping directly off the pipeline. The technology to facilitate this process is cutting edge and Plymouth State will be one of the first organizations to utilize this model and we believe the first in New Hampshire.

We look forward to continuing to share news about this exciting project, and to answering questions members of our community may have about it. Please feel free to email either of us if you have any follow up questions.

Skating on “Green Ice”

August 7th, 2009 by William
Plymouth State University’s newest building will not only serve as a gateway to the campus and community, it will also be a showcase for energy efficiency and green building technology.

Located on Route 175-A in Holderness across from the Foley Gymnasium, the first phase of Plymouth State University’s ALLWell (Active Living, Learning, and Wellness) Center is the construction of an ice arena. The Ice Arena will serve as a teaching facility for instruction and research in ice activities, a home for Panther varsity men’s and women’s ice hockey teams with seating for 850 spectators, and a Welcome Center that will provide an attractive meeting place for visitors to the campus and towns of Plymouth and Holderness and the region.

The Ice Arena will be built to meet LEED Silver standards by installing sophisticated geothermal heating/cooling design to maximize energy conservation opportunities.

“In order to maximize the sustainability of this facility, PSU is installing the large geothermal field and using other energy-saving devices that will reduce energy consumption by at least 28 percent over a traditional arena,” said PSU’s Director of Environmental Sustainability Bill Crangle.

The combination of geothermal and the capture of waste heat generated by ice making equipment will provide the heat for the facility thereby removing reliance on traditional fuel-based heating system.

PSU Ice Arena workers
Construction workers are hard at work on the PSU Ice Arena, which is scheduled to open in 2010

Because of the energy-efficient design, this facility will require less energy consumption than PSU’s traditional academic and residential buildings of the same size. Because of the design and operating systems, the structure will be one of the most energy efficient ice arenas in the nation.

Here are the highlights of the energy efficient design and construction of PSU’s Ice Arena:

  • Building will meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver standards
  • An integrated ice-making/heating/cooling system is the most energy efficient system on the market today
  • Geothermal system Saves energy, provides heating, cooling and hot water for building, eliminates the need for use of fossil fuels
  • Ice refrigeration system is integrated with the Geothermal and uses non toxic glycol instead of toxic ammonia, radiant heat is provided through waste heat
  • Low energy lighting – interior and exterior – saves energy and preserves the night sky
  • Energy costs are 30 less than traditional ice arenas
  • Bioswales in the parking area control and filter storm water, improving the overall quality of water returning to the aquifer
  • Water efficient plumbing fixtures reduce water use
  • Shuttle service, bike storage, and changing rooms encourage alternative transportation
  • Construction of the ice arena uses sustainable methods such as recycling construction waste, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified wood products, and use of local materials and contractors

By signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, PSU has made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality. The PSU Office of Sustainability works in partnership with the PSU President’s Commission on Environmental Sustainability and the University Environment Committee to advance the University’s goals on sustainability.

In addition, the University will make the Ice Arena available to area science classes to provide the opportunity to learn about the various “green” technologies being implemented.

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