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Helping universities go green

By District Energy posted 06-29-2023 11:41


MIT Technology Review


While many schools have focused on making new LEED-certified buildings, Rebecca Berry, now president of  Boston-based Finegold Alexander Architectspoints out, “by rehabbing your existing and historic buildings, you are able to create facilities with much lower embodied carbon.” In 2019, Finegold Alexander partnered with engineering firm Salas O’Brien to implement Amherst College’s master plan for reaching “carbon zero” by 2030. Key to the strategy is overhauling the campus energy system. Like a lot of schools, Amherst heats many buildings with steam, which requires a large amount of energy to produce, even with a co-generation system. The new system will use water heated to just 130 degrees using heat pumps fed by geothermal wells, an approach used by other universities as well. For these systems to work, however, campuses also must address exterior systems. “If you put low-temperature hot water into uninsulated buildings with leaky windows, you are not going to be warm,” Berry says. “Careful analysis and energy modeling let you determine the best approach to air sealing, insulation, and glazing.” 

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