Power – Upgrading a Campus Energy System as Part of a Carbon-Reduction Effort

Educational institutions increasingly are upgrading their physical utility infrastructure to become more efficient in their use of energy while addressing the reliability of the energy supply on their campus. It’s a trend across the country, and globally, as campuses seek ways to reduce their carbon footprint and their energy costs while increasing resiliency in the wake of increased storm intensities.

Wellesley College in Massachusetts, a renowned institution considered one of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S., is an example. In the fall of 2020, Ameresco, an advanced technology integrator specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, was selected to provide clean technology solutions to replace Wellesley’s antiquated Central Utility Plant.

The partnership made sense on several levels. Ameresco’s innovative approach matched well with a college known for its progressive sustainability policies and history of illustrious alumnae, including environmental activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, astronaut Pamela Melroy, and politician/diplomat Hillary Rodham Clinton. By implementing the proposed energy infrastructure upgrades, the institution is benefiting from a significant cost savings, increased resiliency—and most importantly—supporting the college’s efforts to meet its environmental sustainability objectives.

“At Wellesley, we believe that responsible stewardship begins at home, and are committed to reaching efficiency goals,” Dave Chakraborty, assistant vice president for facilities management and planning at Wellesley, said in a statement earlier this year when the college announced details of the project. “This project will move Wellesley forward towards a more sustainable future and helps achieve our goal of reducing campus greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions 37% by 2026, as compared to the institution’s 2010 baseline.”

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