Ohio University's Climate Action Plan was approved on November 28, 2012. That document outlines a number of aggressive energy saving and resource reduction strategies including the institution's commitment to transition the Lausche Heating Plant to a lower emissions alternative by the year 2016. The Facilities Management staff at Ohio University has an aggressive plan for the heating plant transition in the coming years.
With the current proposed solution focusing on natural gas, the institution has been focused on researching the feasibility of such a transition. Beginning in April of this year, the university's Director of Energy Management was able to purchase large blocks of natural gas at significantly low costs. This allowed the university to enter into a pilot phase of using natural gas as the institution's primary on-campus stationary source. Such a pilot enabled the university to test the efficiencies of existing boilers and prepare additional projection data regarding fuel transitions. Additionally, it allowed the university to enter into initial training opportunities for the employees who will be responsible for understanding fuel transitions in the near future.
During the test period from April 15, 2012 to November 15, 2012, there were 1,392 heating degree days and 944 cooling degree days compared with 1,369 heating degree days and 941 cooling degree days from the prior year. This makes the data very similar for comparison purposes. We do not have the necessary equipment to measure the actual emissions, but based on calculations, the following reductions were noted:
The university has also noted an efficiency increase in the plant while operating on natural gas. While it is not possible to give the exact number for the efficiency increase because of measurement issues with the coal operation, it has been determined that the Lausche Heating plant is between 15% and 20% more efficient when burning gas than coal; saving $260,000 in fuel costs during this time. This has led us to petition the Ohio EPA for a permit to operate at 100% gas, which was granted in 2012.
Such a transition is a significant and complex undertaking for an institution of OU's size, so the process will require several years' worth of efforts from a number of entities. We maintain our commitment to sustainability and will continue to invest in carbon reduction initiatives with the heating plant as we enter into the implementation phase of the Climate Action Plan.