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BUDGET AND ENERGY EXPERT MIKE HALL, AT SKIDMORE’S NEW SOLAR FIELD


thermal-solar panels on each roof will provide some of the buildings’ domestic hot water in winter and all in summer.


GROUNDSWELL


“I liken it to getting free fuel for life,” Hall says of Skidmore’s sustainable heating and air-conditioning systems. Using the deep-underground temperature that stays at about 50 degrees year-round, geothermal technology provides most of the heat- ing and all the cooling needs for Skidmore’s two large apart- ment complexes and seven other buildings across campus. Much of the time, he notes, the only fuel usage for geother- mal is a little electricity to run the pumps that circulate fluid underground and up into the buildings’ ductwork. “With Paul Lundberg, our lead project manager in facilities


services, I pushed for geothermal from day one,” Hall says. Once Skidmore learned that its underlying campus geology was favorable, around 2004, it dug its first geothermal wells as part of the new Northwoods Village apartment complex. There, utility bills are so low that their savings paid for the initial higher costs of installation within three or four years. “There’s no question that geothermal is very green and clean environmentally,” Hall says, “so as soon as we could see that it would pay off financially, we got right into it.” Lundberg, guiding the implementation of geothermal in new and existing buildings, also spearheaded a plan for shar- ing unneeded geothermal heating and cooling from idle or empty buildings at times when a nearby building experiences more demand, a system that helped Skidmore win a 2012 prize from the national Association for the Advancement of


Sustainability in Higher Education. Now on Lundberg’s mind is the planned Center for Inte- grated Sciences. Its four floors of lab equipment and people, he says, will make it “a cooling-predominant building. So if we calculate for its cooling demands, we know we’ll be well covered for its heating.” One key to efficiency in drilling a ge- othermal field is efficiency in building design. Lundberg as- serts, “We’ve been diligent in engineering the CIS—co-locat- ing vent hoods and animal-care rooms, for instance, and the shared spaces help keep the footprint reasonable—so this is a facility that really merits an alternative energy system.” Skidmore now accomplishes about 40% of its heating and cooling with geothermal. Going forward, Hall says, the strate- gy for all new buildings and all repairs to existing heating and cooling systems “includes considering whether geothermal would be a good option.”


FIAT LUX


All over campus, more than 550 outdoor light fixtures were upgraded in the past few years, to fit them with induction lighting, which is more efficient even than compact fluores- cent bulbs. The utility-bill savings have been significant ever since.


Dan Rodecker, Skidmore’s facilities director, says, “We’d have gone with super-efficient LEDs, except that we’d have had to replace the entire fixtures, and they still had a lot of life in them.” But LEDs are making inroads fast. The 2012 ren- ovations in Scribner Library brought in lots of LEDs, thanks to a NYSERDA incentive. And now that the technology is more


 FALL 2014 SCOPE 25


ERIC JENKS ’08


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