The University of Pennsylvania has committed to the goal of achieving 100% carbon neutrality by 2042, a goal we call 100 x 42. The Operations and Maintenance Department, within the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES), works with the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee's Utilities and Operations Subcommittee to identify and execute funded projects that meet this goal.
The Center for Environmental Building and Design in the Weitzman School of Design continues to be an integral partner in developing, evaluating, and managing the carbon inventory for the University — a key aspect of our 100 x 42 goal.
Building on the success of the past 10 years of sustainability at Penn, FRES, the ESAC Utilities and Operations Subcommittee, and School and Center partners will continue to investigate and implement carbon reduction projects across campus.
To that end, the FRES Operations and Maintenance department has begun to investigate options to purchase renewable energy for the University in order to supply carbon-free electricity to all University buildings.
Century Bond program and associated energy savings
The Century Bond program, established in 2012, earmarked $200 million for building projects which combined deep energy retrofits and deferred maintenance. This 100-year funding mechanism has been used to upgrade lighting in 45 buildings and for deep and comprehensive HVAC replacements across nine buildings. The nine completed HVAC projects collectively show a 28% decrease in energy use and a 6% decrease in backlog costs—costs associated with building systems that have failed, or are operating at decreased efficiency. The utility costs savings are being re-applied to the program, allowing more projects to be executed in the coming years. More information on complete projects can be found on the Penn Connects website.
Impact on the regional grid
In 2010, Penn entered into a 20-year Steam Supply Agreement with Veolia Energy North America for campus steam. As part of Penn’s supply agreement, Veolia was requested to invest $60M to build two new natural gas-fired rapid response boilers. These upgrades, completed in January 2013, improved reliability and reduced carbon emissions more than 25% for all steam users in the region.
Waste steam condensate used for cooling
Air conditioning at Penn uses a centralized chilled water plant, which pumps chilled water to buildings across campus. As part of the MOD 7 upgrades, completed in 2016, two new steam driven chillers were installed to provide added cooling capacity, fuel flexibility, cost savings and resiliency. The steam driven chillers are able to use the steam produced as a by-product of electricity generation at Veolia Energy, reducing electrical demand during the cooling season.
In partnership with the local steam supplier Veolia, Penn entered into an agreement to offset* summer steam use in FY19 through the purchase of verified offsets. The 2019 offset purchase resulted in a 33,000 MTCDE reduction in steam carbon emissions for Penn, with the offset payment used to fund the installation of a landfill gas collection and methane–powered electrical generation. Because of the emissions reduction, the steam is also assigned a lower energy value, reducing the amount of energy consumed by campus.
Building utility meters
Among the successes of Climate Action Plan 2.0 was the installation of building meters for the three main utilities serving each building: steam, chilled water, and electricity. These meters, combined with updates to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), system, have provided building engineers and managers the tools to closely monitor building performance. The resulting capabilities cut energy use while improving occupant comfort, reduce maintenance costs, and afford real-time fault detection to effect quick repairs and equipment replacements when necessary.