Along with the teaching that goes on in the classroom, to retain the respect that underlies their missions, our education institutions must also lead by example. This means every organizational decision must be carefully weighed, meaning not only do financial implications have to be considered, but they must also be balanced with environmental, social, and future objectives.
This is exactly the sort of situation Plymouth State University, established in 1871 and located in Plymouth, NH, found itself in as it explored the possibility of making the institution carbon neutral, a goal set out in Plymouth State’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) as part of the school’s President’s Climate Commitment signed in May 2007.
“We were motivated by the substantial environmental benefits and cost savings.
We want to lead by example, and this is another major step in our effort to be carbon neutral.”
Vice President for Finance and Administration,
Plymouth State University
Project Scope & Delivery
In the fall of 2013, after years of exploring all their energy options, Plymouth State decided that converting the university’s heating plant from diesel fuel (#6) to natural gas made the most environmental sense, especially considering, thanks to XNG’s service, the university could get compressed natural gas trucked directly from the pipeline to the school.
Ecologically, the switch from the pollutant-heavy oil to XNG’s cleaner-burning natural gas means that school’s carbon footprint will be reduced by about 12%. Recognizing the environmental benefits of natural gas, Greener U, the university’s sustainability consulting firm, identified the conversion as a progressive action toward the institution reaching their long-term goal of carbon neutrality. While Plymouth State’s commitment to the pursuit of environmental sustainability was a driving force in the school’s conversion to CNG, the university’s leaders weren’t blind to the fact that choosing XNG as their energy provider would also help the school financially.
RESULTS & BENEFITS
With the EPA changing air quality rules to make #6 fuel oil even more expensive combined with the fact that natural gas is the most inexpensive fuel on the market, the switch means the University will make their money back on the conversion in just one year. Subsequently, converting to natural gas is projected to save the system more than $500,000 annually. These additional funds will be used to control tuition costs and provide additional resources for strategic campus priorities, thereby creating a dynamic and sustainable learning environment for more students wanting to make the world a better place.