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Colby College Sustainability Report 2010-2011

Highlights of Sustainability Initiatives for 2010-2011

Biomass Heating Plant Project

Site work began on the new biomass boiler expansion to the central heating plant soon after the Board of Trustees approved the project in October 2010. The boilers, cyclonic dust collectors, and other external components arrived and were installed over the summer. The biomass boiler facility is expected to be operating and ready for testing in October and generating steam for campus use by January, 2012. The plant will burn 22,000 tons of wood fuel per year using two 400-horsepower gasification-fed boilers. The College will be burning only waste wood and debris, including bark and treetops that would normally be left behind in the forest harvesting process. No prime trees will be cut for fuel. Plans specify that the waste wood be obtained from sustainable forest operations within a 50-mile radius of campus to minimize carbon emissions from fuel transportation. We expect to have up to four truckloads of wood fuel delivered to the plant per day during the coldest part of the winter. The new biomass boilers will connect to the existing steam facility. The current oilfired boilers will remain available as backup and to supplement the biomass boilers on the days of peak heating demand. The burning of biomass in the new facility is projected to reduce Colby's current annual consumption of 1.1 million gallons of No. 6, low-sulfur heating oil by 90 percent.

Biomass Plant under construction, summer 2011

There are different methods of calculating carbon emissions from biomass burning. The use of biomass as a fuel is considered to be at least "carbon lean," if not carbon neutral, and we project Colby's carbon emissions to decrease by 9,500 to 13,500 eMTCO2 per year when the biomass plant comes on line. This project will clearly be a major step towards achieving our goal of carbon neutrality by 2015. Not only will the new biomass plant reduce carbon emissions, but it will also help the College realize a financial savings of approximately $1 million annually after the plant construction costs are fully paid. Original estimates for oil and biomass prices indicate that the project will pay for itself within six to 10 years. Half the $11.25-million construction cost is being financed using College funds. The other half is funded through a combination of a $750,000 Efficiency Maine grant and borrowing. The biomass project is expected to achieve a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver rating although achieving a rating of LEED Gold is possible.

Colby Sustainability Report 2010-11 Take Back the Tap


On Earth Day 2011, Colby announced that it would eliminate the purchase or sale of bottled water in most campus venues. Sarah Sorensen '11, former president of the Environmental Coalition and ES policy major, led the three-year "Take Back the Tap" campaign. Sorenson began by working with Joe Klaus in Dining Services to eliminate single-serving bottles of water at catered events, and their efforts culminated with the agreement by the Athletics Department to stop buying bottled water for its teams and with the removal of bottled water from the bookstore and Spa. Sorenson and other Environmental Coalition students worked diligently and collaboratively with College administrators and purchasers to encourage the campus community to obtain their drinking water from the tap. Colby has installed several new water stations that include fountains with spigots designed for filling water containers. By using bulk containers, reusable water bottles, and pitchers of tap water at events, the EAG estimated that more than 10,000 plastic water bottles will be removed from our recycling and waste disposal flow each year, that tens of thousands of purchasing dollars will be saved by the College and individuals, and that an unknown amount of oil will be saved from not producing and transporting the plastic bottles.

Upgrades to Campus Drive and Landscaping around Johnson Pond

Colby is one year into a multiphase project to improve the water quality in Johnson Pond. Buffer zones with plantings, rain gardens, and mulch have been installed to divert, slow, and absorb storm-water runoff and reduce nutrient loading into the pond from road, parking lot, and lawn runoff. Phase two of the project will begin during the 2011-2012 academic year and will involve the installation of docks to provide access to the pond without disturbing the fragile shoreline and causing nutrient loading into the pond. The major reconstruction project of Campus Drive between the pond and the athletic center, completed this summer, will further manage storm-water runoff through the installation of an underground storm-water drainage system and curbs along the roadside. The nearly $1 million road upgrade is a result of a partnership among the Maine State Department of Transportation, the City of Waterville, and Colby. When these projects are completed not only will travel along Campus Drive be safer (and smoother), but infrastructure will also be in place to improve the water quality of Johnson Pond.

Electricity Conservation Initiatives

DEMAND RESPONSE PROGRAM Colby agreed to join large electricity users throughout New England in a program to make substantial reductions in consumption when the regional power grid is approaching maximum capacity. On those rare occasions that grid operators anticipate a potential system reliability event, the College has committed to cutting its electrical load by approximately 15 percent of the summer peak demand. DEMAND LIMITING/LOAD-ROLLING PROGRAM PPD and its energy management contractor instituted a campus-wide demand limiting/load-rolling program during the winter of 2009-2010. The project entailed identified equipment that would enable the College to meet the goal of reducing campus demand by 100 KW ­ roughly 5 percent of peak load. This equipment included non-critical air handlers for heating and makeup air, exhaust systems, and air-to-air heat exchangers. Colby's energy management system polls across a select group of equipment, shuts down equipment necessary to get as close to the 100 KW limit, releases the selected equipment after 15 minutes, and then goes back to the list looking for the next equipment to shut down. If selected, the equipment is not put back onto the list for 45 minutes. This demand limiting/load-rolling procedure contributed to substantial electrical savings across the campus.

STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Reporting System) is an assessment tool that academic institutions use to evaluate their sustainability. Developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the STARS system also enables institutions to share information about best practices, benchmark sustainability performance, and provide incentives for improvement. Institutions earn points in each of three areas: education and research, operations, and planning, administration and engagement. Colby has registered as a STARS institution and is currently gathering the data necessary to be evaluated in the spring semester 2012.

STARS Assessment

Colby Sustainability Report 2010-11 Community Sustainability Partnerships


Colby has entered into partnerships on three major sustainability-related education and research projects. BELGRADE LAKES WATERSHED SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT Seven Colby faculty from five different departments are collaborating with researchers from the University of Maine at Farmington, University of Maine at Orono, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, and the Maine Congress of Lake Associations on a multiyear, National Science Foundation-funded study to investigate the impact of landscape and lake-ecosystem changes on the economic sustainability in central Maine. The interdisciplinary research teams have been conducting historical studies of lake users' attachment to the watershed, assessing biodiversity patterns, modeling lake ecosystems, constructing databases of chemical, biological, and landscape features of the area, and more. In addition, Colby faculty and research students have been working with our partners to accelerate the adoption and implementation of the Maine DEP LakeSmart Program through training in the property evaluation process. With more trained evaluators, the community has greater access to the LakeSmart screening process with the goal of increasing the number of shoreline properties that are "gentle" on the lakes. Also, as part of this project and with the support from a Goldfarb Center civic engagement grant and the PPD, the grounds at Colby's Outing Club facility on Great Pond are being upgraded to meet LakeSmart standards as part of COOT 2011, and it will provide a model for shoreline residents to follow. MAINE LAKES RESOURCE CENTER Colby is a lead partner along with the Belgrade Lakes Association and the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance in the development and creation of the Maine Lakes Resource Center (MLRC), which opened its doors this summer. The MLRC creates a wonderful venue for conservation organizations to provide community members and lakeside property owners with information about best conservation practices designed to minimize or eliminate deleterious lake impacts from living and working in the Belgrade Lakes watershed. The offices of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and the Maine Congress of Lakes Association are located on the second floor of the building, and a large central space on the first floor is used for exhibits and meetings about conservation practices. The MLRC will provide lakeside property owners and lake community members from all over the state with access to educational resources they need to become responsible stewards of their lakes. The resource center also has a small laboratory for the College as well as K­12 faculty and students to investigate aquatic species diversity and to analyze lake water quality. In addition to educating people about conservation, the resource center has been designed to serve a wider purpose for the mid-Maine community. Lecture series, cultural events, music concerts, and art and craft shows will be held in the main gathering space, and the farmers' market will have a permanent home on the resource center grounds. The public docks are available for boaters to tie up and visit the town as well as provide a permanent space for the Melinda Ann, the Maine Congress of Lakes Association's boat used for education and research. Colby's strong support of this conservation and community-resource center reflects the College's commitment to sustainability and also the central Maine community of which we are a part. PARTNERSHIP WITH BIGELOW LABORATORY In the summer of 2010, Colby and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences formed a strategic partnership to expand the educational and research opportunities at both institutions. Recognized internationally for their excellence in oceanographic research, Bigelow Laboratory research scientists conduct fundamental research on the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems. Between new courses at Colby offered by Bigelow research scientists, research projects on Bigelow's Boothbay campus, and the oceanographic research cruises they sponsor, this partnership is creating opportunities for Colby students to study marine ecosystems and their conservation. Plans are continuing for a semester-inresidence program for Colby students at the Bigelow campus beginning in spring 2013.

Colby Sustainability Report 2010-11


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

Colby's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been measured since 2004 with the initial assessments done by ES research students. Our Office of Institutional Research now conducts the emissions inventory process annually. Historical data were gathered for 1990, at four-year intervals up to 2002, and annually thereafter so that emissions trends could be quantified and the impact of new sustainability initiatives could be measured. Using Clean Air-Cool Planet's Campus Carbon Calculator v6.4, Colby's FY 2010 gross GHG emissions were computed as 16,708 MT eCO2, a decrease from FY 2009's gross GHG emissions of 19,066 MT eCO2. The sources of 2010 GHG emissions are shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Percent Contribution to GHG Emissions by Source 2010


The 12 percent decrease in emissions since FY 2009 was largely due to decreases in emissions from heating fuels (due to increased efficiencies and a warmer winter) and solid waste (due to waste reduction and recycling initiatives and to the new methane recovery facility at the Norridgewock landfill where Colby's waste is disposed). Emissions from sources owned or controlled by Colby, such as those from heating fuels and the College vehicle fleet, decreased 9 percent in the past year, while those from indirect sources, such as commuters and College-related travel, remained mostly unchanged.


Colby Sustainability Report 2010-11

Figure 2 shows the annual emissions computed for Colby from 2002 to 2010. · · · Colby's emissions peaked around 28,000 MT eCO2 in the early 2000s. Emissions decreased 32 percent from 2002 to 2004 due to Colby's change to purchasing electricity from 100 percent renewable sources in 2003. Net emissions per square foot of building space decreased more than 45 percent from 2002 to 2010 despite a nearly 8 percent increase in campus building space and a slight increase in student enrollment.


Figure 2. Colby GHG Emissions by Source 2002- 2010. The green line represents net emissions per square foot of building space referenced to the Y-axis on the right.

Colby Sustainability Report 2010-11


Figure 3 shows Colby's projected GHG emissions through 2015. The "business as usual" approach, which shows what the College's emissions would have been if we had continued the energy consuption patterns of the early 2000s, is contrasted with projected emissions going forward as the biomass plant comes on line, and we continue to implement sustainability initiatives as planned.

Goals for 2011-2012

· · · Biomass heating plant to be fully operational in January, 2012. Green Orientation ­ Incorporated several sustainability events in student orientation 2011 to heighten awareness of conservation practices and sustainable living at Colby. Develop proposal to create Office of Sustainability and addition of a Sustainability Coordinator position for consideration in 2012-13 budget. The office will coordinate campus sustainability efforts, develop and implement strategies to achieve carbon neutrality, and enhance environmental awareness and conservation programs. The College will continue to pursue at least LEED Silver certification for all major new construction and renovation projects. Develop pilot projects for implementation of wind and energy technology on campus through a partnership involving faculty, student researchers, and operations staff. Completion of the STARS assessment system by spring 2012.

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