Green Universities

U New Hampshire Powered with Landfill Gas

The University of New Hampshire has begun powering its campus primarily with landfill gas, a first for a campus in the United States. The 5 million square-foot campus is receiving up to 85 percent of its electricity and heat from purified natural gas through EcoLine, a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses purified methane gas from a nearby landfill.

"It's a wonderful project because it's one of the few that makes both perfect economic sense as well as environmental sense," said President Mark Huddleston. "It reduces our dependence on fossil fuel. It also helps stabilize our energy costs, and, indeed, gives us the opportunity to invest money in other alternative energy projects."

EcoLine is a partnership with Waste Management's Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) in Rochester, where the naturally occurring by-product of landfill decomposition is collected then piped 12.7 miles to the Durham campus, where the fuel powers a 7.9 megawatt turbine that provides electricity and heat.

The total cost of the project, which included construction of the pipeline and a gas processing plant at TREE, is $49 million. UNH will sell the renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by using landfill gas to help finance the overall cost of the project and to invest in additional energy efficiency projects on campus. In addition, UNH has purchased a second generator for its cogeneration plant and will sell power in excess of campus needs back to the electric grid.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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