Recent developments, such as the opening of the Irving Institute, have sparked discussions about clean renewable energy on Dartmouth’s campus. The Dartmouth Hanover Heating Plant, which has been supplying campus with energy since 1903, is the oldest continuously operating co-generational energy plant in the country. Using cogeneration — heat and energy production — the plant supplies electricity and heat by sending low-pressure steam around campus. To create this steam, the plant runs off of No. 6 fuel oil, a type of residual oil characterized by both an extremely high-energy concentration as well as an extremely high rate of pollution.
Dartmouth initially began to set greenhouse gas targets as early as 2005, according to assistant director of the Dartmouth Sustainability Office Marcus Welker. Around that time, greenhouse gas and carbon impacts became the first and most widespread environmental related goals set by colleges and universities.
“These questions of, ‘What are we going to do?’ ‘What's the alternative?’ began being raised in late 2010, early 2011, when the current iteration of the Dartmouth Sustainability Office was founded with Rosi [Kerr] as the director,” Welker said. “The cogeneration plant is the largest single generator of greenhouse gasses at Dartmouth College by far, and so has been the focus of a lot of the work that our office has done.”