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 http://secondnaturebos.wordpress.com.