DePauw investing $40 million to reduce carbon footprint
DePauw University is investing $40 million in what its president, Mark McCoy, calls a "bold and thoughtful plan" to significantly reduce the university's carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency and fund new and enhanced residential living space.
The Campus Energy Master Plan (CEMP) will save an estimated $750,000 annually in energy expenditures and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent, while the housing master plan will enrich the living-learning community experience strongly tied to DePauw's student-centric mission.
The CEMP investment includes $12 million to fund new HVAC technology, upgrade heat and water delivery systems, provide LED lighting throughout campus, and a plan to install DePauw's first array of solar panels.
DePauw will also convert its heating system to natural gas from steam, which contributes to 43 percent of the university's energy usage, according to Warren Whitesell, associate vice president for facilities management.
"These new systems will also utilize less electricity, which costs five times as much and produces more greenhouse gases than natural gas," Whitesell said. "Locally, electricity is primarily sourced from coal, which is more harmful to the environment than other energy sources."
Ecosystem, a firm based in Quebec, specializes in complex, interconnected energy systems that increase efficiencies and drive out waste. It will work with DePauw to design and implement the CEMP.
DePauw will also invest in a new housing master plan that includes new residence options for first-year students and enhancements to existing space.
As part of DePauw's mission of providing an immersive living-learning environment, all DePauw students live on campus, which makes the housing plan all the more important.
"Residence halls are much more than a place to sleep. They are at the heart of a student's college experience, especially at a university like DePauw," McCoy said. "They facilitate and enrich a close-knit living and learning environment and the development of strong support networks for students." National research indicates that students who live on campus are more satisfied with their college experience, earn higher grades, and are more likely to graduate.
A DePauw housing committee will select an architectural design partner for the housing master plan by the end of this month, with a plan in place within six months.
Both master plans will be implemented through tax-exempt financing secured last week from BMO Harris Banking.
"With interest rates still historically low, the timing is good for investments that will help DePauw achieve a long-term, sustainable campus and a thriving living-learning community," said Bob Leonard, vice president for finance and administration at DePauw.