Eastern Michigan University on the road to energy self-sufficiency

Eastern Michigan University completed the first phase on the road to energy self-sufficiency Thursday, June 8, when a 500-ton crane lifted a new energy saving turbine into its heating plant. 

The new project will allow EMU to become almost fully self-sufficient in its output for electricity and heat for the campus, reducing its carbon footprint and annual energy expenditures. 

The co-generation project, costing $19.6 million, will replace a 30-year-old unit that broke down in April 2016. Co-generation combines heat and power systems while using natural gas to produce steam heat and electricity for the entire campus. 

"The co-gen (generation) project benefits our campus community in two primary ways. It provides a significant reduction in our carbon footprint, resulting in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable campus," EMU vice president of Communications, Walter Kraft said. 

"It also provides significant costs savings -- $2.8 million a year in energy savings."

Compared to the old unit, which generated about half the heat and electricity on campus, the new turbine will generate nearly all the heat and electricity needed to run campus. The project will also reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 34 tons annually -- which would limit potential effects of acid rain. 

The co-generator will result in a yearly decrease of over 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), equal to 78.2 million miles driven by the average passenger vehicle. 

"A huge priority for students recently has been how do we live our live, and more so, make our community more sustainable and eco-friendly?," Student Body President Miles Payne said. 

"Buying smarter and recycling is a great start, but seeing this new turbine installed is a giant step forward. Within the student government office, we have a Sustainability Commission that is tasked with furthering these types of efforts from the ground, up. So our work, plus this initiative brought from the administration - is making for some serious positive change."

The project will be completed by spring 2018.

Follow Joe Israel on Twitter at @izzywan_kenobi and follow The Eastern Echo at @eastern echo. 


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