DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire revealed a new energy efficiency partnership with Eversource on Wednesday that officials say will reduce the college’s operating costs and environmental impact.
The three-year strategic plan will help UNH save three to four percent of its energy purchased through Eversource, reducing carbon emissions by 1,170 tons.
That’s equivalent to the energy needed to charge 108,204,556 smart phones, according to data produced by UNH and Eversource.
There are already close to 20 energy efficiency projects underway or completed as part of the plan, including work done at Parsons Hall, where chemistry students study.
Jackson Kaspari is one of those students. He lives in Dover and is pursuing his Ph.D.
Kaspari said science labs are a good example of a place where institutions such as UNH can reduce their environmental impact and realize cost savings. He says that according to the U.S. Department of Energy, if all the labs across the country reduced their energy consumption by 20 percent, there would be a combined $1 billion savings.
At the same time, Kaspari and other chemistry students are well aware of the fact that labs have to be carefully ventilated for safety reasons. Having proper air exchange systems in place is crucial even though they use a lot of electricity.
Kaspari said they also deal with cancerous substances that cannot be detected by the human senses, so there are additional long-term health concerns when it comes to proper ventilation.
“We know what we’re using is dangerous,” Kaspari said.
That is why UNH and Eversource chose Manchester-based Measured Air Performance to install SmartStack technology, which uses active sensing for lab exhaust fans which can reduce energy consumption up to 40 percent.
Co-founder Eric Desrochers has more than 30 years of experience in the lab industry and said since he and CEO Steve Graves started the company in 2016, they have attracted customers across the nation.
Desrochers said California is a big market for them because that state’s energy codes require systems like theirs, which monitor the air quality and can shut off fans when they are not necessary.
“We are especially appreciative, as a New Hampshire, home-grown and based company, we’re appreciative of the opportunity to work further with UNH and Eversource and to save energy to really make a big difference as far as sustainability and best practices that we want to get out there,” Desrochers told the crowd gathered in a lab.
Prior to the lab tour, Will Arvelo, director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, said that these partnerships between business and education are necessary to solve complex problems.
“We recognize we cannot solve all our challenges if academia is trying to go at it alone and business is going at it alone. There’s tremendous power in bringing those two sectors together to really tackle our challenges,” Arvelo said.
Eversource Chief Operating Officer Bill Quinlan said the partnership with UNH “really gets to the heart of some of our most significant challenges.”
“One of the biggest challenges we face is delivering clean energy for the future to the region. How do you do that while keeping rates affordable and the grid reliable so the economy can continue to prosper? It’s not an easy equation to solve. Partnerships like this will really get to the heart of that issue,” Quinlan said.
UNH President James Dean said sustainability is a core value and strategic priority for the college.
“We’re especially proud to know that this agreement is the first of its kind among New Hampshire colleges and universities.
In fact, innovative projects like this are why University of New Hampshire is recognized as one of the nation’s top three universities for sustainability,” Dean said.
Other projects taking place at UNH include new magnetic bearing chilling equipment with smart pumping controls for research air systems at Gregg Hall, a new dehumidification system at the Whittemore Center, where they are also reviewing ice-making systems, and LED lighting upgrades around campus.