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More than 160 Harvard buildings are heated by the Blackstone Steam Plant. Since the University purchased the plant in 2003, a number of modifications have been made to increase efficiency. Blackstone had previously been fueled mostly by oil, but switching to more efficient natural gas reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15%. We recently installed a high efficiency boiler, as well as a co-generation turbine which will reduce the University’s carbon footprint by utilizing existing steam to generate as much as five megawatts of electricity.
UOS manages the University's two chilled water facilities which provide cooling for more than 75 buildings. In 2006 at the central chilled water plant on Oxford Street, we replaced a pair of the oldest chillers with newer and more efficient models allowing us to significantly reduce energy use. (see chart)
Our investment in Free Cooling Heat Exchangers at the new chilled water plant under the Northwest Laboratory means that in the winter months, we use the cold outside air to produce chilled water, reducing energy use by 66%.
The two plants also operate in tandem so that the most efficient combination of chillers is always used.
UOS buys and delivers 45-megawatts of electricity each year which is enough to power the equivalent of 9,000 homes. We acquire a portion of the University's electricity from renewable sources like hydro and solar; and UOS will soon add landfill gas to this portfolio. As part of Harvard's overall energy purchasing strategy, UOS buys Renewable Energy Credits (REC) from the coastal community of Hull which operates a 1.8 megawatt wind turbine.
UOS facilitates renewable energy projects across Harvard. Currently, we are leading the University's largest wind power study to date. A 167-foot meteorological (MET) tower equipped with anemometers is collecting information on wind patterns. The data will be used to determine if, and where on campus, renewable wind power would be an efficient way of generating electricity.