Environmental Protection Agency Lauds UMass Amherst With Energy Star Award for Heating Plant

AMHERST, Mass. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is presenting the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a 2011 Combined Heat and Power Energy Star Award for simultaneously producing electricity and useful thermal energy from a single-energy source.

In 2008, the campus began operation of a 14-megawatt Central Heating Plant, a combined heat and power (CHP) system. This state-of-the-art plant represents a major milestone in the university’s multi-year initiative to reduce fuel consumption and minimize its environmental footprint. This CHP system is a large part of the reason the university has reduced overall energy consumption by 21 percent since 2004.

"This combined technology not only conserves energy, but also reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, helping to protect the health of New England citizens and our environment," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "EPA is proud to recognize the outstanding pollution reduction and energy efficiency qualities of this project."

The combined cycle facility, which generates electricity and steam, uses natural gas and oil, and can be expanded with new equipment to burn biofuels such as wood chips. It replaces an obsolete 1918, coal-burning facility and has reduced the campus’ greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 75 percent. The CHP system produces nearly all of the electric and steam demand for a campus comprising more than 200 buildings and nearly 10 million gross square feet of building space. Another feature of the system is that it uses 160,000 gallons of treated effluent per day from the local wastewater treatment plant to generate steam. The effluent replaces the drinking water that would typically be used by such systems.

With an operating efficiency of nearly 75 percent, the CHP system requires approximately 18 percent less fuel than the facility it replaced and prevents an estimated 26,600 tons per year of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions from more than 4,600 passenger vehicles.

The EPA CHP Partnership, established in 2001, is a voluntary program that encourages the use of CHP to reduce the environmental impact of power generation. The partnership works closely with energy users, the CHP industry, state and local governments, and other energy stakeholders to facilitate the development of new projects and to promote energy, environmental and economic benefits.