Friday, December 2, 2011

Student Clubs Host Visit From Local Activist

MWCC's 100 KW Photovoltaic Solar Array
The Art Club, together with the Math Club and the Green Society brought local activist Hattie Nestel to campus this week for a presentation on renewable energy and energy efficiency as alternatives to nuclear power.
As a member of the Shut It Down Affinity Group, the Athol resident is whole heartedly against nuclear power, and focused much of her Nov. 29 presentation about the potential dangers of nuclear power. The group's members, who range from a kindergarten teacher to a 92-year-old, have been arrested on several occasions for their protests at the Vermont Yankeee nuclear plant.
During her presentation, Nestel praised legislators such as Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey, ranking member of the Natural Resources committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce committee, for his work on energy and environmental issues. Nestel told students and faculty members gathered for the presentation that 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. is generated by nuclear power. Statistics show greater job growth in green energy, and with more effort placed on conservation, Americans could reduce electricity consumption by 25 to 30 percent, she added.
The student clubs banded together to bring Nestel to MWCC because they thought it would be a great opportunity for the campus to learn more about alternatives to nuclear power and the work advocates are doing to raise awareness, particularly in light of the  disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan, said Sarah Adams, secretary of the Art Club.
“We thought it was a great experience to partner up with the different clubs, and also a great experience to learn about this, considering that our college is so green already,” Adams said. Faculty advisors Tom Matsuda (Art Club) Tom Montagno (The  Green Society) and Yoav Elinevski (Math Club) supported the students' efforts to bring the presentation to campus.
Nestel, who is also a member of the Citizens Awareness Network (, gives several presentations a week throughout the area to interested organizations. "I feel people are lacking this information," she said.

In addition, she recommends a variety of resources to those interested in learning more. On her suggested reading list are two books by Hermann Scheer, a 30-year member of Germany's parliament who was instrumental in efforts to establish Germany as a world leader in renewable energy: The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future and Energy Autonomy: The economic, social, and technological case for renewable energy. Among her recommended websites: and
- Angela Marini

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MWCC Receives Massachusetts Leading by Example Award

Mount Wachusett Community College has been recognized by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Leading by Example Program as the state entity that has made the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The college was presented with a Leading by Example Award from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs during its annual ceremony Oct. 26 at the Statehouse honoring state agencies, public higher education institutions, municipalities, and individuals that demonstrate outstanding clean energy and environmental leadership.

MWCC was recognized for a 48 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a 2002 to 2004 baseline, the greatest reduction of any state college, university or agency. Thanks to an array of projects, including investments in biomass, a 100- kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) installation, solar hot water systems, and the recent installation of two 1.65 megawatt wind turbines on its campus, MWCC is expecting clean energy to generate 97 percent of the college's annual electricity demand.

“We are extremely proud and honored to receive this Leading by Example award for the groundbreaking work that has been underway at Mount Wachusett Community College for more than a decade, including the recent installation of two wind turbines,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, who accepted the award on behalf of the college with Executive Vice President Emeritus Edward R. Terceiro, Jr.

“Our hope is that our energy initiatives will serve as a model for other institutions in the Commonwealth and across the nation, as we strive to reduce our reliance on foreign fuel and protect the environment through a combination of ingenuity and commitment to future generations," President Asquino said.

Last week, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) named Massachusetts number one in ACEEE's annual state-by-state energy efficiency scorecard. Massachusetts topped California in the ranking for the first time with ACEEE noting the Patrick-Murray Administration's clean energy agenda, which includes the Green Communities Act of 2008 and innovative energy efficiency programs like Leading by Example.

“Thanks to Governor Patrick's national leadership on energy efficiency and renewable energy policies, we're making tremendous headway in pursuit of our clean energy future, with state and local governments setting the pace," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr.

This year's Leading by Example award winners "have taken steps that will continue to yield long-term environmental and economic dividends for years to come," Secretary Sullivan said.

Leading by Example was established by an April 2007 Executive Order in which Governor Patrick directed agencies of state government to improve energy efficiency, promote clean energy technology, and reduce their environmental impacts. The Executive Order calls on state government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, reduce energy consumption at state-owned and leased facilities 20 percent, and procure 15 percent of energy from renewable sources by June 2012. In addition, it established the Mass LEED-Plus building standard for new state construction, which requires energy performance to be 20 percent better than code.
Leading by Example efforts have resulted in significant accomplishments in recent years, including an increase in the amount of installed solar PV at state facilities from 100 kW in 2007 to more than 4 MW in 2011 and an increase in the amount of installed wind at state facilities from 660 kW in 2007 to over 8 MW in 2011. This year's awards recognize an array of clean and energy efficient initiatives including heating system replacement, energy efficient building renovations, aggressive recycling, innovative LED street lighting installations, and renewable energy system installations.

For more, click here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Massachusetts Most Energy-Efficient State in the U.S.

Mount Wachusett Community College is proud to be located in the most energy-efficient state in the country!

The fifth annual edition of the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released Oct. 20 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), recognized the Commonwealth as the country's new leader. The state surpassed California, which had held the nation's top spot for the past four years. According to the ACEEE scorecard, Massachusetts' took a major leap forward when it passed the Green Communities Act in 2008. The act established energy efficiency as the state's "first priority" resource and created an Energy Efficiency Advisory Council to work with utility companies to develop statewide efficiency plans that are now deemed the most progressive in the nation.

The other Top 10 states on the 2011 Energy Scorecard are New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland. The six most-improved states are Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee.

"Through our Green Communities Act, we set aggressive goals and laid the foundation for greater investment in energy efficiency – and now we are proud to be a model for the nation and world," Governor Deval Patrick stated last week. The governor is also predicting double-digit growth in green energy jobs by mid-2012. According to a bewkt released report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Commonwealth had 4,909 clean energy firms and 64,310 people working in clean energy jobs as of July. Growth in the clean energy workforce was 6.7 percent between July 2010 and July 2011.

For more news, visit and

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Green Society Helping Others Live Green, One Water Bottle at a Time

Green Society members Rosemary Mruk,
Jesse Roberts and Owen Despre
MWCC's Green Society is making another splash toward sustainability with a new addition to the Gardner campus. The new water cooler and bottle filling station, located in the Commons area near the financial aid office, is part of an outreach campaign to provide students, faculty, and staff with an alternative to plastic water bottles.

The water bottle station, which was funded jointly by The Green Society, the Student Government Association and a $1,000 grant from the United Way Youth Venture, is environmentally friendly because it allows people to refill reusable water bottles. In just a few weeks, it has already saved nearly 400 plastic water bottles from being used. "It's turning out to be a great compliment to other sustainability efforts at MWCC," said Rosemary Mruk, treasurer of the Green Society.

Students from The Green Society researched and presented an action plan and budget to the United Way Youth Venture and members of the college community last spring to receive funding for this project. The UWYV provides opportunities for young people throughout the region to create their own positive social change. The process is non-competitive and open to students ages 12 to 22, said Kumar Raj, United Way Youth Venture Coordinator.

Beginning this month The Green Society will sell reusable, stainless steel water bottles to help raise money for replacement filters for the water station. In the future, The Green Society would like to see a water bottle station on each floor of the Gardner Campus, as well as at the satellite campuses in Leominster and Devens.

"We are excited to see how the campus receives the new water cooler and bottle filling station, and we hope that this station can pave the way for more on campus," said Professor Tom Montagno, the club's advisor.

"At MWCC, we don't just want people to 'Go Green,' " said Owen Despre, president of The Green Society. "We want them to 'Live Green.' "

- Angela Marini

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Green Tastes Good

If you’ve ever wondered who makes sure there is a bountiful breakfast buffet and hot coffee every morning on campus, you should meet Lynne Franciose, our dining services manager and green advocate extraordinaire.

Her day begins around 4 a.m. with checking email, reviewing menus, and taking time to make sure the cafeteria and campus catering services run smoothly. By 6 a.m., she is on campus, doing the morning set-up routine of filling ice buckets, preparing coffee, and baking breakfast goodies.

I recently sat down with Lynne to talk about the various ways the Green Street Café is environmentally responsible. From the coffee we drink to the vegetables in the soup, Lynne has made some progressive choices that place the Green Street Café at the forefront of environmentally responsible food service.

For the past two years, The Green Society student group on campus and their organic kitchen garden project has collaborated with the Green Street Café. This partnership not only collected food waste for compost, but it also produced vegetables, herbs, and flowers for use in the Café’s menus. The Green Society collects food waste in compost buckets and uses it to fertilize the club’s garden. This keeps all those food scraps out of the college’s waste stream and ultimately a landfill. Conversely, when the kitchen garden comes to harvest, the Café reaps the benefits. By working together to choose what is grown in some plots, the Café has not only created demand for the fresh local produce, but also saved the college money by choosing to grow pricey items such as herbs and edible flowers right here on campus!

The coffee station in the Café is a busy place any time of day. It’s good to know that even with this every day staple item, Lynne and the Green Street Café have made a conscious choice to use environmentally friendly options. By choosing Green Mountain Coffee as our vendor, we are supporting fair trade and organic coffee. Plus, all the “disposable” items such as cups and lids are made from biodegradable materials, meaning it can all be kept out of landfills!

Beverages make up approximately 15 percent of what is consumed through the Café, so Lynne partnered with Coca-Cola, our soft drink vendor, in an ongoing initiative they are developing to use plant-based and biodegradable bottles for their products. In addition, bottles that are not currently made from the new plant-based materials are still staying out of the landfill. Through a partnership with Gardner High School, students collect and recycle the traditional plastic bottles. Subsequently, they learn the importance of recycling and they also get to keep the money they earn from the redemption value.

One of the most visible and significant initiatives Lynne has implemented is the use of local farm produce. While it could have been a time consuming and expensive proposition to use organic vendors and farms across the Commonwealth, Lynne worked smarter, not harder.

Attending a Farm to School conference last year, Lynne realized that a particular food service wholesaler was already utilizing local farms and organic produce for their product line. By using this vendor, Lynne is able to serve fresh, local produce without the added work of dealing with numerous farms individually.

In addition to the on-campus efforts Lynne coordinates, the Green Street Café also has a larger green footprint that reaches across the globe. The Café has chosen Heifer International as its primary charity and work to collect donations and build awareness among students for the needs of hungry people around the world. Established in Rutland, Mass., Heifer International works with communities to end hunger through innovative programming. 

These “living loan” programs provide families with livestock and education on how to raise and profit from the livestock. The families eat better and can generate income in sustainable ways from eggs, milk, and meat.  An important part of the program is that those same families then give one of its animal's offspring to another family and increase the program’s impact in the community.

The Green Street Café will be starting a new collection for Heifer International in November. Heifer International volunteers will be on campus. Stop by, have a snack, and learn more about this great part of the Green Street Café’s commitment to sustainability.

While MWCC continues to work to incorporate green initiatives to many aspects of operations across the Gardner campus, it is good to know that even the food we serve in the cafeteria is making a positive impact on our community and environment, rather than a negative one.  It’s all the small decisions, when taken together as a whole strategy, which add up to a big change and move in the right direction. Stop by the Green Street Café sometime and know that your delicious meal is supporting local farmers, a high school student recycling program, a student-run organic kitchen garden, and fair trade products.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

MWCC's Prius Adorned with Energy-Themed, Student-Designed Car Wrap

MWCC's 2008 Toyota Prius is not only energy efficient, it's now an eye-catching billboard on wheels.

This month, the stark white Prius was adorned with a colorful, energy-themed car wrap created by Zak Stoddard, a Computer Graphic Design-Print major at MWCC. Stoddard's design depicts an electrical plug blooming among flowers, text promoting the college's Energy Management and Computer Graphic Design programs, and phrases encouraging onlookers to "Go Green" and "Charge Up Your Career."

Sonya Shelton, an adjunct instructor in the Computer Graphic Design program, initially thought up the idea of a car wrap to simultaneously promote the college's green programs and the work of CGD students. A college team, including representatives from Marketing & Communications, Facilities Management and the CGD and Energy Management programs, met to explore the idea.

The team decided that wrapping the college's hybrid Prius, used to deliver mail between campuses and for employee travel purposes, was a great opportunity to spread the word about the college's academic programs.The wrap, installed by D&G Custom Graphics of Fitchburg, was funded by MWCC Foundation, Inc. through a grant the foundation received from an anonymous donor to promote the new Energy Management program.
Shelton and CGD Chair Professor Leslie Cullen were excited to use the car wrap as a learning opportunity and as a way to showcase students' work. Students in Cullen's capstone CGD course, Portfolio Preparation, had the opportunity to submit designs for the car wrap.  

"This project was something unique and quite different than anything our students have done in the past," Cullen said.

The class worked closely with D&G graphics, the same company that applied MWCC's logo and initials to the college's two wind turbines, to obtain a full-size template for the car. Students were then asked to create various layout sketches from the template provided, then created drafts of their ideas in full scale on the template. The project was presented as a real world project from start to finish. The client, David Schmidt, chair of the Energy Management department, came to the class to discuss the project parameters and provide information on the concept of energy management and what the curriculum entails at MWCC, Cullen said.

The Marketing & Communications department provided guidelines for elements to include on the car, such as the college logo, and students researched car wraps, energy management concepts and green solutions for inspiration for their graphics. Ultimately, a variety of creative, attractive submissions were narrowed down to a handful of finalists, with Stoddard's winning submission selected by the college's Executive Council.  

"All the students who volunteered to design a car wrap should be commended for their workmanship and effort," Cullen said. "The final design was chosen by the Executive Council, and I personally couldn't be more proud of Zak Stoddard and his design. Zak has been a consummate professional throughout the entire project, from the initial concept to working closely with D&G Graphics to make sure production went smoothly. Zak deserves a world of credit for his work," she said.

"I look forward to his future successes and am thrilled to have his work showcased and the CGD department recognized every day when the Prius hits the road. Also, I couldn't be more excited about what was learned along the way. The educational value of this type of project surpasses so much of what we could have taught from a book or in the classroom alone," Cullen said.

Stoddard said implementing the project from start to finish provided an invaluable learning experience.

"It was a great opportunity for me because of the people I got to meet at the college through this process," Stoddard said. "I was glad to have this opportunity because it allowed me to gain experience in the field I plan to go into. When I saw this car finished, it made me very proud."
Pictured: Computer Graphic Design student Zak Stoddard with MWCC's Toyota Prius, now decorated with the car wrap he designed. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MWCC Honored with National Climate Leadership Award

Mount Wachusett Community College has been nationally recognized with a Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature, the supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

In recognizing MWCC with the prestigious award, Second Nature highlighted the college’s successful renewable energy measures, including the recent installation of two 1.65 MW Vestas V82 wind turbines expected to propel the college to near-carbon neutrality for campus operations. With the college’s biomass and solar technologies incorporated into the mix, coupled with significant efficiency improvements, MWCC will be generating nearly all of its energy on-site to operate as a near-zero net energy campus.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino accepted the award on behalf of the college on June 23 during the fifth annual ACUPCC summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by George Washington University.

“We are extremely proud and honored to receive this Climate Leadership Award for the groundbreaking work that has been underway at Mount Wachusett Community College for more than a decade, including the recent installation of two wind turbines,” said Asquino, a charter signatory to the ACUPCC and a member of the organization’s leadership circle. “My hope is that our energy initiatives will serve as a model for other institutions across the nation, as we strive to reduce our reliance on foreign fuel and protect the environment through a combination of ingenuity and commitment to future generations.”

MWCC’s wind project is an integral component in Gov. Deval Patrick’s 2007 executive order “Leading by Example – Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings,” which calls for increasing the use of renewable power and significant energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at  state facilities.

“When it comes to being a leader in our quest for a clean energy future, Mount Wachusett Community College truly walks the walk,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “The college’s efforts to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency – recently becoming a near zero net energy campus – demonstrate true commitment to Governor Patrick’s Leading by Example program, and I am pleased to congratulate college officials on this well-earned recognition,” Sullivan said.    

The Leading by Example Program executive order set aggressive clean energy targets, including calling for 15 percent of state electricity use to come from renewable sources and a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. MWCC has far surpassed both these goals and is the first state institution to meet the 80 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction goal by 2050, according to Eric Friedman, deputy director of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ Green Communities Division and Director of the Leading by Example Program.

A collaboration between the college, the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management, the Department of Energy Resources, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the $9 million wind project is being funded through $3.2 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants, $2.1 million from a low interest Clean Renewal Energy Bonds; and $3.7 million from Massachusetts Clean Energy Investment Bonds.  

“The Division of Capital Asset Management is proud of Mount Wachusett Community College’s national recognition. This achievement is a testament to the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to investing in innovative technologies and providing world class public higher education facilities,” said DCAM Commissioner Carole Cornelison.

“I want to commend President Asquino, Executive Vice President Emeritus Ed Terceiro and the entire Mount Wachusett community for their receipt of this national award,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland. “It is truly remarkable to see the transformation that has occurred at Mount Wachusett as a result of its sound investment in renewable energy. At a time when all Massachusetts campuses are struggling with limited financial resources, Mount Wachusett has achieved substantial energy cost savings and also used its clean energy programs to prepare students for careers in green technology. I am delighted to see the campus receiving national recognition for these achievements,” Freeland said.

Initially built in the early 1970s as an all-electric campus when electricity was expected to be an inexpensive commodity, MWCC was spending more than $750,000 a year in electricity alone by the 1990s. Under the administrative leadership of President Asquino and Resident Engineer and Executive Vice President Emeritus Edward R. Terceiro, Jr., the college sought renewable energy solutions and extensive Energy Conservation Measures to drastically reduce energy consumption and move toward clean energy resources.

Over the past decade, the college increased in size to its present 450,000 square feet and nearly tripled the number of computers, yet through these innovative strategies, annual electricity consumption has dropped by nearly half – from 9 million kWh per year to 5 million kWh. MWCC’s biomass heating plant, a 100 kW photovoltaic array and a solar thermal array for domestic hot water are integrated into teaching and learning experiences for students pursuing green careers through the college’s Natural Resources, Energy Management and workforce development programs. In addition, students have access to geothermal heating and cooling technology on-site. Energy Conservation Measures installed on the campus, ranging from lighting retrofits and automatic lighting controls to HVAC upgrades, were implemented with the assistance of grants and energy rebates to defray costs and in the last two years have resulted in a reduction of more than 800,000 kWh, a 13-percent drop in overall electricity consumption.

The Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards, initiated in 2010, recognize the best examples of climate leadership actions among colleges and universities that are stepping up efforts to conserve resources and preserve the environment. The ACUPCC, launched in December 2006, is a national effort addressing global climate issues and the steps colleges can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its mission is to accelerate the country's progress toward climate neutrality and sustainability by empowering colleges and universities to educate students, create solutions and provide leadership in their communities and throughout society to achieve this goal.

For more information on the awards, visit

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MWCC Receives Environmental Merit Award from EPA

Mount Wachusett Community College has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its ongoing sustainability initiatives, including the recent addition of two wind turbines.
MWCC received an Environmental Merit Award during the EPA New England District's annual recognition ceremony on May 11 at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

MWCC was recognized for exemplifying how an institution can invest in clean energy, reduce  dependence on foreign oil, and ultimately address the global climate crisis. The two wind turbines are expected to generate 97 percent of the school's energy demand. Combined with the college's existing biomass heating, photovoltaic array and solar hot water technologies, MWCC will produce nearly all of its energy on-site.

The merit awards, recognizing valuable contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, are a unique way that the EPA recognizes individuals and groups that are making significant impacts on environmental quality in distinct ways. Awarded by the EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups that have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew 56 nominations from across New England.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turbine Dedication Ceremony Ushers in New Era of Sustainability at MWCC

Prominent state and local leaders joined Mount Wachusett Community College officials, faculty, students and staff members to usher in a new era of energy sustainability during a dedication ceremony April 27 celebrating the college's two new 1.65 MW wind turbines.

Together, the turbines are expected to generate approximately 97 percent of the college's electricity demand, plus return an additional 30 percent of power back to the energy grid. When combined with existing renewable technologies, the college anticipates generating nearly all of its energy on site and achieving the distinction of near carbon neutrality for campus operations.

"This is a major day in the history of Mount Wachusett Community College," said President Daniel M. Asquino. "The wind project caps off a solid decade of renewable energy initiatives and conservation measures that to date have reduced the college's energy consumption nearly by half, and at a significant benefit to the environment, as well. With the addition of wind power, we enter a new era of sustainability."

President Asquino and the college community dedicated the Vestas V82 turbines in honor of Congressman John W. Olver for his support for funding through the U.S. Department of Energy, and to Edward R. Terceiro Jr., MWCC resident engineer and executive vice president emeritus, for his leadership on this project and other campus energy initiatives, and to both for their renewable energy vision. Congressman Olver immediately donned an MWCC turbine t-shirt created by students in the college's Computer Graphic Design Club, before addressing the audience.

"If our nation is going to move away from an energy economy based on petroleum and the burning of fossil fuels, and we must do this to slow climate change and save our planet, then we need to invest much more heavily in renewable sources of power," said Congressman Olver. "The wind initiative at Mount Wachusett Community College is a great program that will move us in the right direction on energy. I am proud to have been a part of it and am honored by this dedication."

In addition to Congressman Olver, President Asquino and Mr. Terceiro, featured speakers at the ceremony included Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr., Division of Capital Asset Management Commissioner Carole Cornelison, State Senator Jennifer Flanagan, Gardner Mayor Mark P. Hawke, and MWCC Board of Trustees Vice Chair Tina M. Sbrega.

The dedication ceremony coincides with the fourth anniversary of Gov. Deval Patrick's 2007 executive order, "Leading by Example – Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings." The wind project is a collaboration between the college, and the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management, the Department of Energy Resources, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. The JK Scanlan Company, Inc. of Falmouth, Mass. served as general contractors, and numerous Massachusetts companies were involved in the construction.

"Congratulations to Mount Wachusett Community College for achieving near zero net energy status with the commissioning of these two turbines," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "There couldn't be a more fitting place to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Governor Patrick's executive order establishing the Leading by Example program. From the turbines to a 97 kilowatt solar array to the college's biomass heating system and energy efficiency improvements that have triggered dramatic campus-wide energy savings, Mount Wachusett is truly 'leading by example.' On behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration, I commend President Asquino and the rest of the college community for their pacesetting efforts," Sullivan said.

The Division of Capital Asset Management played a key role in the college's biomass conversion, as well as the wind project and other campus building projects.

"Today DCAM has a great opportunity to celebrate a long and successful partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College," said DCAM Commissioner Carole Cornelison. "This project has allowed DCAM to put in place two state-of-the-art wind turbines - an important innovation that brings both energy efficiency and sustainability to the campus, while also demonstrating the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to providing world class public higher education facilities," she said.

"Mount Wachusett Community College has worked aggressively to pursue new options in renewable energy and today's dedication of the two turbines further cements the college's role as a leader in the national campus climate movement," said Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with campus leadership as we bolster our sustainability initiatives throughout the Commonwealth."

"As a result of all the renewable energy work that the college has done, sustainability has become the mantra of the college and is now infused throughout the curriculum," Terceiro said. "Everyone has embraced the work that we're doing."

Photos from top to bottom: President Daniel M. Asquino, Ph.D. shakes hands with Executive Vice President Emeritus and Resident Engineer Edward R. Terceiro, Jr.; President Asquino welcoming ceremony attendees at the podium; U.S. Congressman John W. Olver making his moving dedication speech while wearing one of the student-designed wind turbine t-shirts; Edward Terceiro explaining that proceeds from sales of the student-designed t-shirts featuring the "Catch the Wind" turbine design will benefit student scholarships; MWCC Computer Graphic Design students Jon Skinner and Noah Ciccoine at the dedication ceremony; Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. from the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs addressing the audience; Commissioner Carole Cornelison from the Division of Capital Asset Management speaking at the dedication ceremony; Secretary Sullivan facing the crowd with the two turbines in the background on the Gardner campus of Mount Wachusett Community College. (Photos By Dana Armstrong, MWCC).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ceremony Set to Dedicate MWCC's Wind Turbines

Mount Wachusett Community College will commemorate the start of a new era of sustainability during a wind turbine dedication ceremony on Wednesday, April 27. The event, which coincides with the fourth anniversary of Gov. Deval Patrick's executive order "Leading by Example - Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings" will take place at 2 p.m. at the main entrance patio at MWCC's Gardner campus.

The college's two new turbines will be dedicated in honor of Congressman John Olver, for his support for funding through the U.S. Department of Energy, and to Edward R. Terceiro, Jr., MWCC executive vice president emeritus and resident engineer, for his leadership on this project and other campus energy initiatives, and to both for their renewable energy vision.

The event is open to the public and will include remarks from Congressman Olver, Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, Division of Capital Asset Management Commissioner Carole Cornelison, State Senator Stephen M. Brewer, and State Senator Jennifer Flanagan, as well as MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, Executive Vice President Emeritus Edward Terceiro, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Tina M. Sbrega, and Trustee and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

In March, MWCC activated its two 1.65 MW Vestas V82 turbines, which are expected to generate 97 percent of the college's annual electricity demand, plus return an additional 30 percent of power back to the grid. The wind project is a collaboration between the college, the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management, the Department of Energy Resources, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. The JK Scanlan Company, Inc. of Falmouth served as general contractors and numerous Massachusetts companies were involved in the construction.

The $9 million project is being funded through $3.2 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants, $2.1 million from a low interest Clean Renewal Energy Bond (CREB); and $3.7 million from Massachusetts Clean Energy Investment Bonds.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MWCC Celebrates Earth Day!

MWCC commemorated the 41st anniversary of Earth Day by emphasizing the many simple ways people can make a difference to the environment through recycling, energy conservation and choosing reusable products over disposable ones, coinciding with Earth Day 2011's theme of "A Billion Acts of Green."
Due to the college’s decision two years ago to switch to a Monday-through-Thursday class schedule to allow students and employees to conserve on gas, the activities took place today, a day in advance of Earth Day.
MWCC’s Student Life office, Campus Activities Team for Students (CATS), the student sustainability club The Green Society, and the Energy Management and Natural Resources academic programs sponsored activities in the South Café and Commons area.
Members of The Green Society sold CFL bulbs, LED nightlights and reusable bamboo utensils, and a number of organizations were on campus to promote their environmental initiatives. Presenters included MASSRides and Miller’s Watershed. The musical group The Hickory Strings provided entertainment.
In addition, students in the Health, Nutrition and Sustainability Honors Colloquium displayed information from research projects exploring the historical, cultural and political influences on our food, food sources and the provision of food, as well as the health implications of these influences. The students will present their research tomorrow on Earth Day during the 17th annual Undergraduate Research Conference at UMass, Amherst.
Through MWCC's renewable energy initiatives and the growing emphasis nationally on “going green,” students are now more aware than ever of the meaning of Earth Day. “Our students get to see the biomass plant, wind turbines and the work on campus and in the community conducted by The Green Society,” said Greg Clement, assistant dean of student services. “The college leads by example. What the college does influences everyone else.”
“Students are more aware today than 10 years ago about new initiatives and new ways to help protect the environment,” added Dr. Thomas Montagno, biology professor and advisor to The Green Society.
Pictured: Members of The Green Society helped celebrate Earth Day 2011. From left, Rosemary Mruk, Mike Crowley and Joe Berube.
- Guest post & photo by Kim Anderson, Marketing & Communications Department intern

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CGD Club Creates School Pride Turbine T-shirts

MWCC's Computer Graphic Design Club is putting a new spin on going green, with a T-shirt design celebrating the college's wind energy project. All proceeds from T-shirt sales will go toward student scholarship funds.  

The design features a silhouette of the college, the two wind turbines and a word cloud. The word cloud contains the phrase "Catch the Wind-Innovation is a Breeze," along with additional words to describe the college's energy initiatives. 

"We knew it was a big opportunity," said Noah Chicoine, who helped create the design along with Doug York and Jon Skinner. Club members worked on the slogan ideas, coming up with Innovation is a Breeze, and will continue to volunteer selling the T-shirts.

The project began in November as a collaborative effort between the CGD Club, Leslie Cullen, chair of the Computer Graphic Design program and the club's advisor, and the Marketing and Communications Department, to highlight school pride for the wind project. 

"This was the best collaborative effort of the club and the most rewarding," said Cullen, adding that the students acted as junior graphic designers in a real-life design firm. 

T-shirts are available for $15 to $17 and can be ordered in light blue and pear green in women's sizes and light blue and stonewashed green for men's and unisex sizes. Club members will be taking orders through 3 p.m. on Monday, April 4. To order a shirt, complete an order form and a check made out to MWCC – CGD and drop them off in the college’s Marketing and Communications Department, room 118.

Order forms can be found online at A receipt will be sent via email upon payment for your order. Shirts can be picked up on Wednesday, April 20 in the cafeteria hallway from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, or to make alternative arrangements for pick-up, contact Associate Professor Leslie Cullen at or 978-630-9347.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Green Light for Green Energy: MWCC's Turbines Activated

With optimal weather conditions and a green light from national Grid, Mount Wachusett Community College actviated its two wind turbines on March 25.

College officials received confirmation from the utility company, following National Grid's review of data collected during a successful witness test on March 18. Vestas technicians activated the twin turbines in the early afternoon, and northwest winds of 22 miles per hour immediately aided in producing energy for the college. During the break-in period, the turbines will run intermittently.

Together, the Vestas V82 turbines will meet 97-percent of the college's electricity consumption, while also generating revenue for the college by returning approximately 30 percent of the power generated back to the grid.

"The wind project caps off a solid decade of renewable energy initiatives that to date have already reduced the college's energy consumption by half at a significant benefit to the environment, as well," MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino said. "With the addition of wind power, we enter a new era of sustainability."

In addition to wind energy, the college's energy initiatives include biomass heating, photovoltaic solar, and solar hot water, as well as a series of conservation measures throughout the 450,000-square-foot campus buildings.

"It's wonderful to see those puppies spinning," instructor and advisor Bob Mayer remarked. "I think it's great!"

A dedication ceremony is planned for April 27.

The wind energy projects at MWCC and at the North Central Correctional Institution, also in Gardner, are a joint collaboration of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and the Department of Energy Resources to achieve the renewable energy goals of Gov. Deval Patrick's Leading by Example program.

MWCC's $9 million wind project is being funded through a variety of sources, including $3.2 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants secured by Congressman John Olver; $2.1 million from a low interest Clean Renewal Energy Bond (CREB) made available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; and $3.7 million from Massachusetts Clean Energy Investment Bonds.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Witness Test

National Grid conducted its witness test of MWCC’s turbines today, a process that involves reviewing all circuitry, electrical connections and mechanisms to ensure they run properly.
“Everything they’ve done so far looks good,” said an elated Ed Terceiro, MWCC’s resident engineer. As part of the process, both turbines were powered up. At one point, it was noted that the south turbine had already generated 1 megawatt of electricity for the college. By the afternoon, both turbines were spinning for a while as the testing continued.
National Grid will review the test reports and notify the college when the turbines can be turned back on, most likely within a week or so, Terceiro said. At first, the turbines will run intermittently as they are conditioned, before running steadily.
Appropriately, it was a very windy day. According to the National Weather Service, strong west to northwest winds accompanied a cold front in the afternoon, generating wind speeds between 11 and 14 mph and gusts as high as 34 mph. Bring it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Greetings From the Top of a Turbine

Wonder what it’s like to climb to the top of a giant wind turbine? Four MWCC employees know. They recently ascended the college’s north turbine as part of a training program MWCC received from turbine manufacturer Vestas.

Bob LaBonte, vice president of finance and administration; Bill Swift, director of maintenance and mechanical systems; electrician Norm Boudreau; and HVAC mechanic George Couillard climbed rung by rung up a 250-plus foot ladder on the inside of the turbine to reach the nacelle, then took turns peering out through a hatch. Naturally, Swift made the most of the opportunity and crawled outside to stand on top of the nacelle to take a bunch of photos.

“The view from the top was spectacular,” Swift remarked after the excursion. “We were lucky we had great weather, so you could see really far. I wasn’t nervous. I would definitely do it again. It was phenomenal.”

In preparing the employees for the ascent, Vestas technical trainer Bill Fulkerson offered this analogy: “Think about climbing a ladder to the roof of your house – 25 times.” Fortunately, platforms at several levels allowed the crew to stop for mini-breaks during the climb, which took about a half-hour. Protective gear kept the crew safe throughout the climb.

In addition to the four employees who took the tour to the top, three other members of the facilities department also participated in the two-day training session held Feb. 10 and 11 at the college – Joe L’Etoile, John Femino and Dan Bosworth. Due to limited space inside the nacelle, not all could make the climb.

Labonte said the experience was something he never envisioned would be part of a day’s work when he embarked on a career in finance.

“I like the whole technology of it and how it operates,” Boudreau said following the training. “It’s impressive.”

Once the turbines begin running in early March, Vestas will handle virtually all of the maintenance needs. The MWCC employees were trained to ensure that the college has a solid overview of how the system operates and to assist Vestas “as a set of eyes” on site, Fulkerson explained.
Photos by Bill Swift, Dana Armstrong & Kim Anderson

Bill, Bob, Norm, George and Vestas trainer Bill prior to the ascent
250-plus rungs!
Norm climbing up...
...And reaching the top!
George takes in the view...
And so does Bob!
Bill ventures on top of the nacelle to take photos

MWCC's Gardner campus covered in snow

Snow-covered solar panels waiting for spring thaw

MWCC's south turbine
A turbine under construction nearby at NCCI
Mount Monadnock