Oberlin Campus

Oberlin College

Carbon Neutrality at Oberlin College

Ever-Green Energy began its partnership with Oberlin College in 2015, working toward meeting Oberlin’s goal of making the campus carbon neutral by 2025. Oberlin is committed to a sustainable and reliable infrastructure plan that is financially pragmatic and implementable. This effort has included a comprehensive assessment of building performance, fourth generation distribution system solutions, carbon-free energy sources, and the potential of integrating the system with the local community.

Study and Planning

Ever-Green’s study and planning phase concluded that there were several carbon-free strategies that could help Oberlin achieve its goal. Waste heat recovery from an adjacent landfill gas electricity generation station was determined to be the preferred strategy to offset the carbon profile of the campus’ thermal load, although geothermal, biomass, and biogas were also determined to be feasible.

Implementation

In 2019, Ever-Green began leading the implementation phase of the project with an emphasis on converting the campus from steam to hot water and capturing waste heat from combined heat and power driven by methane from a landfill. This otherwise wasted energy can be used to meet the campus’ heating and cooling needs and significantly reduce their carbon profile.

Ever-Green’s Role

Ever-Green led the Carbon Neutrality Implementation Plan for the Oberlin campus with an emphasis on energy and water utilities. Efforts included data collection, identification of building energy efficiency opportunities, exploration of renewable energy source options, development of financial strategies, and community and campus engagement. Ever-Green has recently begun a new phase of work with Oberlin to lead implementation of the planning recommendations, which includes design of the campus conversion from steam to hot water, verification of the optimal carbon-free energy supply strategies, utility organizational planning, development of financing strategies, and continued campus and community engagement.

Milestones

  • 2015 – Initiated campus and community engagement programming.
  • 2016 – Carbon neutrality master plan completed.
  • 2017 – Energy capture design approved.
  • 2019 – Construction implementation plan began.

About the Client

Oberlin College is a four-year liberal arts college and conservatory of music with a reputation for leadership in campus sustainability. Oberlin’s Office of Environmental Sustainability takes a multidisciplinary approach to advancing sustainability for campus and community resilience.

From the Oberlin website:

“Since the first greenhouse gas inventory in 2007, the college has halved on-campus emissions through the purchase of green electricity, installation of a 2.27 MW solar array, energy efficiency projects, and ending the use of coal for heating.” Oberlin is committed to being a carbon neutral campus by 2025.

Stakeholders

The Oberlin team worked closely with Ever-Green to solicit input from students, faculty, staff, and community partners, including the City of Oberlin, and local civic, business, and community groups. It was a priority of the project team to interact with a broad group of perspectives and to learn from the local experts who understand and have a significant stake in the outcomes of this effort.

OBERLIN COLLEGE HOT WATER SERVICE DATA

Buildings served58
Current billed demand19 MW
Total building area served2.1 million square feet

HEAT SOURCES

Heat source total 30MW
Length28,500 feet (supply and return)
Supply Temperature 250 degrees F
Return Temperature 150 degrees F
Fuel typeNatural gas
Plant typeSteam boiler

OBERLIN COLLEGE CHILLED WATER SERVICE DATA

Buildings served15
Total building area served .9 million square feet

CHILLED WATER SOURCES

Chilled water sources 1,850 tons
Length5,200 feet (supply and return)
Supply Temperature43 degrees F
Return Temperature54 degrees F