Oregon State University’s new Energy Center in Corvallis just hit two green-building firsts: It’s is the first power plant in the nation and the first building on campus to receive a LEED platinum certification – the highest mark in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building rating system.
The university replaced a nearly 90-year-old heat plant with a new cogeneration facility that combines heating and natural gas-fired electricity generation. The result is a power plant that generates nearly half of the university’s electricity needs, and saves around $650,000 a year in energy costs while cutting carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 38 percent.
The Energy Center has a long list of green-building features that helped it earn the LEED platinum label, including a white reflective roof, water-efficient landscaping, recycled building materials and construction debris, a rainwater harvesting system for its boilers, natural lighting and ventilation.
Another key feature is a combination of a natural-gas-fired turbine and a heat-recovery steam generator that captures waste heat from the electrical generation process and uses it to produce heat for the rest of the campus.
The center will be a learning lab on energy production for OSU students, too. It runs on natural gas with a diesel backup, but it can also run on biodiesel and methane.
This news reminds me of the College Sustainability Score Card I reviewed to compare the environmental footprint of OSU to the University of Oregon. Energy efficiency is one reason OSU came out on top.