The Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) has received a top environmental award from the nation’s foremost agency in energy conservation practices.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named the FLI at Hobart and William Smith Colleges one of seven winners of the 2009 ENERGY STAR Small Business Award. Winners are recognized for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through effective energy management practices and innovative efficiency solutions. The FLI is the only facility in New York State to receive the award.
“As a signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, I am very proud that the Finger Lakes Institute has been recognized for its outstanding commitment to energy efficiency and environmental protection,” says Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “It’s fitting that this award should come as we celebrate the Institute’s fifth anniversary helping to protect, promote and preserve the Finger Lakes.”
According to the EPA, this year’s award-winning organizations, as a group, reduced their annual greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equivalent to those produced from the average electricity use of more than 80 homes. The winners also demonstrated that improving energy efficiency is an effective, low-cost solution, even in the face of significantly expanded operations. Financial savings for this year’s winners totaled more than $180,000 in annual costs.
“EPA is pleased to recognize the Finger Lakes Institute for its leadership in addressing global warming through greater energy efficiency,” said Kathleen Hogan, director of EPA’s Climate Protection Partnership Division. “They are showing their community that everyone can play a role in protecting the health of our planet.”
To achieve their energy savings, the Colleges, when renovating the building that now houses the Institute, installed 12, 165-watt solar photovoltaic modules on the southeastern side of the facility, to capture sunlight and convert it to electricity. It was predicted that solar power would generate approximately 20 percent of the FLI’s total electrical energy. A geothermal heating and cooling system was also installed to regulate interior temperatures by transferring heat from 20, 100-foot wells drilled along the shoreline of Seneca Lake. This solar and geothermal energy is also supplemented by crediting blocks of wind energy from Fenner Wind Farm in Madison County.
ENERGY STAR qualified products and equipment-including office equipment, appliances, windows, lighting and insulation-were also installed wherever possible, funded in part by a federal grant through the efforts of former Congressman James T. Walsh. Synthetic lumber decking and miniature on-demand hot water heaters are among the other “green” products used in the facility.
“Anytime a new or replacement purchasing decision is made we check for the ENERGY STAR label in that product category,” says Sarah Meyer, FLI community outreach coordinator, citing the ENERGY STAR Purchasing and Procurement Web site. “Our energy savings plan has been aggressive, recognizing that the building was renovated to be efficient and that the FLI and HWS needed to strive to maximize that efficiency.”
Since the opening of the building in 2004 the FLI staff has worked closely with HWS Building and Grounds, the HWS sustainability coordinator and involved faculty and staff to help the building live up to the energy-saving predictions and expectations. The FLI is located in a c.1860 historic home renovated with a grant from New York State garnered by Senator Michael F. Nozzolio.
In 2007, the Colleges enacted an ENERGY STAR Purchasing Policy, committing HWS faculty and staff to purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified products.
Complete details on the FLI’s energy saving efforts, the efforts of other winners, and more details on the ENERGY STAR program can be found online (click on “Award Winners”).
In addition to a celebration for the Energy Star Award later this fall, the FLI will commemorate its fifth anniversary with various events throughout October. A complete listing is available on the FLI’s Web site. http://fli.hws.edu/workshops.asp
“At times our energy savings plan has seemed more like an experiment,” says Meyer. “Managing a green facility with state-of-the-art technology has meant challenges as well as solutions. We have made progress toward the goal of managing cost, maximizing efficiency and maintaining comfort. We’re also achieving our objective of educating the public about energy efficiency, whether it’s on the use of a unique system like geothermal, or what small steps, like adjusting a programmable thermostat, can have for achieving significant savings. We’re on a much more efficient path today than we were two years ago, and we believe it can continue to improve.”