Campus recognized for green energy

By Kylie Putman | For The Duquesne Duke

In recognition of its commitment to purchasing green energy, Duquesne has been awarded a spot on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the Top 30 Colleges and Universities in the country.

The honor was given because of the 18 million kilowatt hours of wind power Duquesne bought from PA Wind in the last year, according to the EPA’s website.

Rodney Dobish, executive director of facilities management, said he is pleased the University received this distinction.

“Everyone plays a part in the environment.” Dobish said. “Staying green fulfills our mission statement.”

Wind power covers approximately 15 percent of the campus’s total energy needs. The remaining 85 percent is created on site through the cogeneration facility, a 5 megawatt gas turbine.

The structure began operating in November 1997, replacing the campus’s outdated air-conditioning systems. It now provides much of the electricity, heating and air-conditioning used in buildings across campus. Between these two sources of power, Duquesne is currently 100 percent reliant on green energy, energy center manager Mark Johnson said.

Johnson said the turbine works by burning natural gas and also recovers the thermal heat produced to make steam. This energy from the exhaust is put to use, helping with the heating and cooling around campus.

“Really you have two energy sources for one,” Johnson said.

In addition to providing the campus with environmentally friendly energy, Duquesne has been implementing green building practices in construction projects that it has undergone in recent years.

Both the Power Center and the Des Places residence hall have been LEED certified. This distinction means that the structures have been built with sustainable design characteristics. Focus is given to aspects such as green cleaning, recycling and energy efficiency. The second floor of the student union also fits the LEED requirements for a pre-existing structure.

William Zilcosky, director of building services, ground and operations, said Duquesne is also trying to do the right thing through its recycling program. The University recycles standard materials like paper, cardboard and plastic, but is also expanding into food composting.

“We’ve had a good degree of success in Towers,” Zilcosky said. “Next, we’d like to expand to the food services in the Union.”

The diversion rate on campus, which measures the percentage of waste materials saved from traditional disposal and put to greener reuse, is slightly higher than normal, resting at a rate of approximately 25 to 30 percent.

“We’re in the middle,” Zilcosky said. “Our goal is to keep improving with the resources we have.”

Dobish said the University’s long term goals include modernizing the buildings around campus to increase efficiency and making adjustments to prevent energy spikes. He also emphasized the necessity of students and faculty remaining energy conscious.

“When you look at our campus, it’s 49 ½ acres and we have 11,000 people going through. It’s like a little city,” Dobish said. “Energy is a big part of our budget and we want to minimize that but we can only do so much. The people who use the resources have a large role. The less we all use, the better it will be in the long run.”