Thursday, January 17th, 2019

UMaine system moving towards more efficient energy

Posted on September 21, 2015 in News
By USM Free Press

By Zachary Searles / News Editor


Last Thursday, the University of Maine System released an energy and sustainability report that stated across the system, Maine campuses have reduced their carbon emissions by 26 percent since 2006.

In 2006, the UMaine system as a whole was releasing 97,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere. In 2010, a committee was formed with a representative from each campus, whose goal was to try and bring this number down.

By 2014, emissions were lowered 26 percent to 72,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide being released.

For the past two years USM has been talking about transitioning to another source of fuel other than oil. The conversion required a loan from the University of Maine System’s office for $3 million and that covered the cost of the removal and replacement of the heating system that has been used since the sixties.

“It does a lot of good things for us. It helps us, obviously, with our price point, it’s much cheaper than oil,” said President of the university, Glenn Cummings.

This conversion will save USM 11% on what they spend for heating costs, those savings can then be put towards scholarships, new investments, or even hiring new faculty.

“We have a chance to set a good example for our students, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and we’re using more sustainable, long term forms of energy,” said President Cummings.

Cummings did mention that this is only the beginning and university is looking into more ways than just this to be more sustainable and efficient when it comes to heating and fuel use.

“We’re looking at a master plan for the campus that would include much larger commitments to sustainability,” said President Cummings.

The oil burner was highly inefficient, by just installing these new natural gas boilers it will increase efficiency by 15 percent, meaning that per any one unit of energy, we can now get 15 percent more energy out of that unit.

The energy and sustainability report also stated that the UMaine system is going to decrease its dependency on oil by around 49 percent, going from over a million gallons of oil each year, to around 536,000.

“Oil is not sustainable in the long run, we know it’s a resource that has limits, it also has an enormous implication for our carbon production which threatens our long term survivability,” said President Cummings.

According to Cummings, this transition to more sustainable energy sources is a “triple win” for the university. “It saves money, it sets a good example and it allows us to attract more students.”

President Cummings mentioned a poll that stated 72 percent of students stated that a university’s commitment to the environment does play a role when they decide which college to attend.

“To the extent that we’re doing this kind of work means that the community, the nation, and the state begins to look at us as somebody who really backs up our commitment to the environment and to saving money,” said President Cummings.

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