By Myra Saturen
December 20, 2012
Northampton Community College's campuses are and will be even more comfortable, energy-efficient and environmentally aware places because of green initiatives undertaken in 2012.
The greatest excitement was generated by plans for the new Monroe Campus. The environmental bar has been raised even higher than it was originally set there with hopes of exceeding LEED Silver certification and reaching LEED Gold. Among many notable features, a geothermal heating and cooling system will include high efficiency HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), lighting and plumbing, state-of-the-art digital HVAC and lighting system controls and the most advanced building envelope materials that minimize energy use. The geothermal system is a series of deep wells drilled into the ground near the building that will house the central plant mechanical heating/cooling equipment for the campus. The whole system will be controlled by a state-of-the-art system that will ensure that it runs at the highest efficiency possible throughout the changing seasons of the year.
On Main Campus, the East 40 Community Garden gained a solar unit that will power the water pump for the bioswale--a drainage slope designed to remove silt and pollution from water and recycle this water for use in the garden--and to provide power for day-to-day energy needs. In 2012, the unit powered tools for the construction of the new hoop house (greenhouse), powered a radio and even brewed coffee. The system, designed and installed by students in the solar PV systems classes, features four 180W PV modules charging a 24V 360 Ahr battery bank and a 1500W DC to AC inverter. It is considered an "off-grid" system because it lacks any connection to the normal grid, creating 120 VAC electricity that is used in the same way as regular utility power. It is a system that is green and clean and greatly cost-saving. The system has been used to power drills and lights and to pump irrigation water from a water catchment area to Community Garden spaces. The Good Growers Club and the Sustainability Committee raised funds to purchase the solar panels for the roof and for an inverter.
On March 26, a wind turbine was installed in the Community Garden to generate electrical power from wind energy and to determine the mechanical power the wind can generate. The turbine, being developed by the Good Growers Club, is constructed out of recycled/salvaged parts of common household items, including a treadmill motor, an outdoor extension cord and some miscellaneous nuts and bolts. Eventually, the turbine will be wired into the solar energy system.
Recycling on campus made headway with the introduction of sponsored bins. Any club, department or individual can sponsor a bin. Located in high-use areas, the bins offer sponsors place to post advertisement while providing funds toward the purchase of more containers. Anyone interested in sponsoring a bin can contact Jeff Kapcsos, Manager, Building Services, at
JKapcsos@northampton.edu or 610-861-5539
The Sustainability Committee came up with yet another way to increase recycling, with two bottle refilling stations installed above drinking fountains in College Center and Communications Hall. The first of more to come, the stations reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles and boost the use of refillable ones.
The automotive technology program purchased a used Ford Escape Hybrid vehicle to be used solely for instructional purposes. A typical hybrid, it has a gasoline engine and electric motors that propel the vehicle for short durations of time. Whenever the battery gets low, the engine starts to propel the vehicle, offering better fuel economy than does a strictly gasoline engine. Two new courses on hybrid vehicles ensure that students are training on the most current technology.
Some of the other projects undertaken by the College's Sustainability committee in 2012 included:
•Take the Stairs campaign-colorful flyers posted around campus to encourage the NCC community to consider taking the stairs rather than the elevator(s).
·Bag initiative in the bookstore-plastic bags phased out and replaced by reusable bags.
·The default font on campus computers/printers changed to Century Gothic (uses less ink!).
· Big Spring Clean-up-Volunteers cleared more trails, picked up about 10 bags of litter, removed invasive species (garlic mustard) and hung the screech owl, flying squirrel, bluebird, and kestrel boxes.
Overall, Northampton Community College is committed to creating appropriately comfortable classrooms, laboratories and supporting facilities for the long-term health of the institution, the community, the economy and environment, while also providing students with excellent, accessible and comprehensive learning experiences. The College's investment in diverse energy conservation measures has as its goal to reduce energy use by 20% over ten years. Three years into the plan, NCC has already reduced its energy intensity by 7%. Campus awareness programs continue to educate student, faculty and staff on saving our environment.
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