Fulfilling Our Promise: Achieving Carbon Neutrality in Our Third Century
April 18, 2019
Laura Drauker, Director of Sustainability at Amherst College, discusses the College's timeline and plans for achieving carbon neutrality.
Laura Drauker, Director of Sustainability at Amherst College, discusses the College's timeline and plans for achieving carbon neutrality.
(Laura Draucker: 00:07) Well, thank you all for coming. As Jim said, my name's Lara Draucker. I've been at the college since 2014. Prior to joining Amherst College, I worked for five years at the World Resources Institute, which is an environmental, nongovernmental organization based in DC. While there I was developing technical greenhouse gas accounting standards for corporations to help them measure and then set reduction targets. And those were done through stakeholder groups of companies, other NGOs, government bodies and people in academia. Then before that, I worked at the Department of Energy and then a postdoc at the EPA doing lifecycle assessment work for energy systems. So, I'm very happy to be here and to have been able to work on the climate action plan for the past several years. There may be a question maybe not about why we're doing a carbon action plan now.
(Laura Draucker: 01:02) So to set that stage a little bit, one of the drivers was the formation of the office of sustainability where it's goal was really to fulfill the college's moral obligation to drive both operational improvements, but also to support education. Not too long after the office was formed in October of 2014, the board committed the college to achieving carbon neutrality by a forthcoming date, of which my office and a task force to join together to determine what that date should be and how we would do it. And then finally, environmental sustainability as part of the strategic plan in developing bold and approaches to that as one of the priorities.
(Laura Draucker: 01:51) But I think perhaps the biggest driver and reason why we're doing a climate action plan is climate change. This has been obviously something ongoing, but in the past Fall in particular with the release of the IPCC special report, we're seeing more drastic and quick need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is really emboldened both our students but also students around the world. And as we've seen recently, and I think really a highlight of last semester for me was this event that the students held in Frost called student voices. About 10 students presented how climate change is impacting them personally in their home communities, and use that as a way to really draw attention to the fact that the college needed to act quickly. And I'm really happy that they were able to do that and that we were able to provide them with an approved climate action plan in January.
(Laura Draucker: 02:53) So what I'm going to do is start with really the elevator pitch of the plan and then I'm going to go through the details. So for the elevator pitch, our climate action plan integrates timely and innovative energy system decarbonization with experiential learning opportunities to take the college beyond carbon neutral by 2030. And there's two pillars by which we're going to achieve this.
(Laura Draucker: 03:17) The first is energy system decarbonization. We're going to transition our campus energy system from a traditional fossil fuel-based steam system to one that is renewably powered through heat pumps in geothermal energy sources.
(Laura Draucker: 03:34) The second pillar is to continue our experiential learning opportunities that we offer our students to go beyond carbon neutral by 2030. And we say beyond carbon neutral because we're really looking to prepare our students as they graduate, to be leaders in climate action by exposing them to be able to explore research and problem solve around climate change. So I'm going to go into each of these in more detail, but first I'm just going to do a little history.
(Laura Draucker: 04:04) First the history of the climate action planning process itself. So very shortly after the board announcement came out in 2015, a task force was formed with faculty, staff and students. Rachel was one of the members of the task force, and we hired an energy consultant to help us benchmark our greenhouse gas emissions and our energy uses into the future. And we use that information to look and see what our reduction pathways could be. And over time, the task force really kind of came to realize that our reduction pathways, we're limited with our current infrastructure. And really if we want it to reach decarbonization without relying heavily on something, on things like offsets, we would need to look at whether transforming our energy system was technically feasible.
(Laura Draucker: 04:54) So in 2018 we hired an expert consultant integral group to perform this analysis for us. They had done a very similar analysis at Smith the year prior and it come out with favorable results to say that Smith could do a similar transformation. And now they're actually working with Swarthmore and Oregon State University among others to do similar plans that they've done for us. They finalized their study, which we'll talk about, and in addition to that, we did our own benchmarking of other institutions that were either looking to make this transformation, have transitioned their systems. And with all of that information, we were able to feel confident going to the board in January that we had a feasible plan.
(Laura Draucker: 05:40) The other piece of history that I think is important to touch on is just the history of energy on campus in general. And looking at the different ways we've innovated and transformed over time. So from the start of the college, there were individual wood fireplaces. The students were actually tasked themselves with collecting the wood which I think will be a good -- filing that away for next April Fools. I think we should relaunch that policy. And then we transitioned to individual coal furnaces in buildings that were attended to by facilities staff. But through the years we started to identify some challenges that drove the board at the time to innovate fuel costs' volatility. The coal that was needed to be used in individual furnaces was of a different quality and cost then fuel that you could use in a centralized plan.
(Laura Draucker: 06:34) At the time, of course, there's pollutants which happened in either in either situation, but having them dispersed around campus creates additional issues. And then just the safety of the system, there were fires and other things. But when you look back to the history, you do see that there was quite a discussion and debate because at the time, to make this transition to a centralized heating plant was very costly. But they did decide to make that transition. They saw it as really a legacy decision of that group at the time. And they transitioned in the 1920s to a coal-fueled heat plant which operated for many, many years. We then transitioned to an oil and gas plant, parts of which we still use today. And most recently we transitioned to a combined heat and power facility. And that allows us to really most efficiently take natural gas and turn it into steam and electricity.
(Laura Draucker: 07:35) But similar to the challenges driving innovation in the 20s, we're also looking at similar challenges, cost and volatility of fuel, pollutants and greenhouse gases, and looking forward regulatory pressures with a very likely a carbon tax in Massachusetts in the future and present and hopefully, or maybe potentially nationwide. So what do we need to do then? So similar to the twenties, we're kind of facing this legacy decision of whether of how we might transform our energy system into the future, really sort of catalyzed by this need to take action on climate change. So final piece of history is our greenhouse gas emissions over time. And we have seen significant reductions since we first tracked them in 2006, a lot of this brought on by the cogeneration plant and its ability to use the same amount of energy and create much more heat and electricity. But also through other smaller fuel switching measures, energy conservation, building really energy efficient buildings. The dotted lines here represent into the future. The solar project we announced last spring, which will come online in 2020. This was done with a collaboration of our peers will be a solar field in Maine. That will help us reduce up to 20% of our carbon footprint. But this sort of remaining bit is...It's hard to really dig into significantly without further changes to our energy infrastructure.
(Laura Draucker: 09:15) So when we started our process with Integral Group, one of the things we wanted to do was ensure that the task force had really kind of looked at all of the options and that energy system transformation was best suited. So Integral Group looked at sort of three other general pathways. One would be the very traditional approach of reducing emissions as much as we can with incremental changes and then offsetting the remainder of our emissions. Another being carbon captures some kind of carbon capture added to our existing plant. The third being switching our fuel source from natural gas to biomass or bio gas. And I think each, all three of these, could be a topic of conversation all amongst themselves about the pros and cons, both technically and socially, of these approaches. And I think all of them would be very great student projects.
(Laura Draucker: 10:08) But in general they all have elements of being costly, unproven technology, unclear what their impacts are really on the global greenhouse gas emissions. And so Integral Group confirmed what the task force had assumed, which is that transitioning our energy system is really our best option to reaching carbon neutrality. So I've talked about transitioning several times now let's actually say what it is. So at the biggest, at the highest level, we're talking about going from natural gas, being used to heat and cool and power our campus to renewable electricity being used to heat and cool and power our campus. So how do we get there? I think there's really four key steps. They don't have to happen in this order, but these are the steps that we need to take. The first is that we need to transform the campus heating and cooling systems away from steam to a low-temperature hot water system.
(Laura Draucker: 11:08) If you were to start a campus from scratch, a city from scratch today, you would most certainly use low-temperature hot water. That's the best practice. It's easier to manage, steam's harder to manage. It's less safe. There's just a lot of benefits to hot water systems. And when we say low temperature, we're talking here about around 120 degrees to 180 degrees. And several of our buildings already are equipped to operate at this level. So the new Science Center, the Greenways. And we'll need to update other buildings on campus to be able to fit into this system. But the reason why this is important from a transition standpoint is that because of the laws of thermodynamics, steam is really only created by combustion or nuclear energy or some other really high powered source. By switching to low-temperature hot water, we open ourselves up to a larger range of options for powering our system, one of which could continue to be combustion if we didn't have the goal of carbon neutrality, but others can be renewable electricity that we'll talk about. So that's really the driver behind this transition. And we'll acquire, as I mentioned, upgrading buildings and also piping around campus to facilitate the hot water.
(Laura Draucker: 12:41) So once we've moved to hot water, the next step is really creating that hot water. And we propose doing that through ground source heat pumps.
(Laura Draucker: 12:52) So heat pumps operate basically like an air conditioner in reverse. You have free heat coming in. This can come from the air. In our case, we were talking about heat coming from ground source heat pump wells. So that will be heat coming in at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit give or take. It's used to preheat a medium that then is compressed with electrical power, creating hot gas that is then used to heat the hot water that goes into the building system. Once all of the heat is extracted, it goes back through the loop and it continues the cycle. So heat pumps again are not a new technology. They're well used. What is a bit new about this is their ability to work well in our climate. So over the past five to 10 years, we've seen a real increase in their ability to operate with extreme weather.
(Laura Draucker: 13:51) This is not to say that this will operate on the coldest of cold days. We'll still need some backup combustion in those cases, but for the most part, we feel pretty confident that this is going to create almost all of our heating and cooling needs. So our "free" heat in -- free in quotations in some respects -- would come from a ground source system. So this is the analysis that Integral Group did to be able to show that yes, there is enough space on campus to support the thermal load of not only our main campus, but also the outlying buildings that are currently not covered under our centralized heating plant. This does not mean that this will be the place where we decide to put the wells. There's still discussion and design to be done to determine whether that is the best location, but the report does show that it's technically feasible there. The other part of the design that we need to determine in the later phase is whether we would have one centralized heat pump plant or whether we would have heat pumps spread around campus. So this example is showing kind of an idea of where we might have three different heat pump plants around campus and heat districts. There's also the possibility of having a heat pump in every building or every few buildings. And that will be things that will be determined during the design phase.
(Laura Draucker: 15:21) So these are really the two hardest parts of the transition. Once we've gotten there, we need to make sure this electrical power is zero carbon. That will be through procuring more renewable electricity. This will be likely a range of options. Some may be on campus, some may be additional, PPIs are offsite, a renewable energy systems. And then finally we need to continue to do the work we've been doing to reduce our energy load through energy efficiency in buildings, retrofits, behavior change, all to make sure that we can reap the best benefits from our new energy system and that we can help reduce those peak load demands that we talked about with the need to bump up the heat pump.
(Laura Draucker: 16:12) So these are the basically the four steps. And they have a range of elements associated with them. A new heat, hot water distribution networks. The low-temperature building systems, the heat pumps, the wells, renewables, renewable energy. Not a necessity to the plan, but definitely a benefit would be battery storage. This will help us reduce demand charges. Also, improve resiliency on campus. And then, of course, continue to have efficient and well-operated buildings.
(Laura Draucker: 16:49) So this is the technical piece. Now let's move to the financial piece. The good news about this system is that it will allow us to achieve some significant operational cost savings compared to our business as usual. And this is due mostly to the fact that we will just reduce the amount of energy we need to purchase. So this is just an illustrative example, but if you look at our plant now, for every one unit of fuel that comes in, we get approximately 0.7, 2.8 units of useful heat and energy out of which is really good, but it's still not one-to-one. With a heat pump system, you putting in one unit of electrical power together with two units of a renewable energy, that's recovered from the environment in some way, and out pops three units of usable heat.
(Laura Draucker: 17:47) So by switching to this, we're really reducing the amount of energy units we have to purchase or supplement the system with, which reduces the cost of our utility bills. There's also savings in the reduction of steam loss. Steam is high powered, high energy. It likes to escape. We do our best not to let it escape, but it happens inevitably and the hot water system will not have those same issues. Finally, we will be able to do some heat recovery. So in shoulder seasons where we're maybe heating a building or a space and cooling another building in a space, we can run that through the heat pump system and recover as much of that heat as possible. This is not to say this is a free system. There is significant capital costs associated with it, estimated around 50 to 60 million without financing.
(Laura Draucker: 18:46) So while some of those operational savings can be used to offset a portion of the capital costs, it doesn't have a quick payback. But there's some other points to note here. The first being that when we look at options to achieve carbon neutrality, transitioning is really the low, the lowest cost solution here. All of these, as I mentioned before, our cost additive to our business as usual case. The other important thing to note is that business as usual has always and will continue to need capital investment over time. Parts of that plant are original to the 1972 upgrade. And they've been really well maintained, but they're reaching the end of their life even in that regard. So there will be need to be capital investments into the business as usual. Over interterm I had a student actually work with me to collect some of the history of the heating systems and she pulled this quote from the Stanley King, a book that I thought was really interesting. "A college plan is never static. It must respond to the changing needs of the college and these must respond to the changing demands of society upon the college..." which just seems so forboding to the climate crisis that we're in right now. In 1951 so that was neat.
(Laura Draucker: 20:08) Finally, I wanted to touch on the benchmarking that we've done. As I mentioned earlier, many peers have done some form of this transformation. Actually, there's several institutions, Ball State, Missouri, S&T, Science and Technology and University of Miami, Ohio, that made these, transitions in the early 2000s driven really just by financial benefits of transitioning to hot water, not by carbon reductions necessarily. Stanford in 2015 did a complete transformation away from their combined heat and power plant to a heat pump-based heat recovery system. Peers closer in climate and size. Carlton and Skidmore. Skidmore has district-based systems and they're slowly taking the whole campus over to a district-based heat pump, a ground source powered system. Carlton is in the middle of a complete transformation. This is a schematic from their transformation. These are where their wells are. One field of which is under their bald spot, which is equivalent to our first-year quad, I hear, I'm seeing smiles. Do you, did you go there? Okay, so you know what I'm talking about. And they have a centralized heat pump plant here. Harvard's Austin campus is an example of someone starting from scratch and building it with hot water. This is a rendering of their energy facility. And I thought it was really interesting that they planned this, the way it's located on campus and the way it's designed is meant to really just be resilient to climate change impacts and flooding. So that was kind of, I don't know if needs the right word, but I found that interesting. And really close to home, The Inn on Boltwood has been operating on a geothermal system since it's an upgrade or renovation, excuse me, in 2012 and it's been working really well. If you go on the [indistinct] on the wells are not, you don't know they're there.
(Laura Draucker: 22:15) So some benefits our peers have seen is they have seen the reductions in energy and operating costs and some cases surpassing the estimates that they had made. They are, they have seen their capital cost of their project remaining sort of within the predicted range of their budgets where they've switched to the low-temperature hot water building systems they've seen improved heating performance, particularly for some of the older buildings. This is Carlton and in particular. They're able to use this to meet their decarbonization goal. Harvard just announced the other month that they are going to purchase another huge amount of solar energy to make their entire campus run on a renewable electricity. And many mentioned the benefit of educational opportunities that these, this transition can provide challenges that we can learn from. Obviously, this will be disruptive to campus. It's a large capital project.
(Laura Draucker: 23:09) Stanford noted the need for careful planning. They put in 20 miles of new hot water pipes over less than two year period. And while they were able to minimize disruption, it still just caused disruption. Some peers have had issues with debris in wells, so we need to be sure about getting contractors that are well versed in, in our area. Also challenges with pipe technology. So most of the hot water systems have really been advanced in Europe. And so some of our local contractors aren't as experienced with these types of pipes. So that type of training will need to occur. And then a couple, several institutions mentioned that they wished they had integrated more of the educational components into the process from the beginning. And so that's a transition into the other pillar of the plan, which is experiential education.
(Laura Draucker: 24:08) And we know that there are many benefits for the campus to go carbon neutral. Our students, our alumni are really excited to be able to say that Amherst College is, will be a carbon neutral campus, but we know in the grand scheme of climate change, it's a very, very, very small drop in the bucket. But we also know and have a proven track record of graduating amazing students that go on to do amazing things and we think that multiplier effect can and should and will apply to climate change as well. We want to really be able to graduate students who can take strong action on climate through policy, technology, activism, education, investment, the whole range. And so this meant much of this stuff has already been done by all of you. So what really can not.. the OES and the climate action plan do to support that.
(Laura Draucker: 25:03/) We see ourselves as supporting these through project-based learning opportunities in the classroom, access to data to support a range of learning opportunities, objectives from intro class projects to thesis work, co-curricular research and learning opportunities in my office and through partnerships with other offices. And making sure students are really engaged in the plan as it being implemented. A lot of this will be building on existing successes. I've hosted interns in my office over the summer for many years. This is a picture of students, a project that we did last summer with students from Williams and Smith taking the drawdown climate solution model and applying it to a higher ed, applying a Higher Ed lens. Students in Professor Carter's class last semester, developing a shower timer to save water. In January I was able to partner with the Loeb Center to bring students to Boston on a climate action trek.
(Laura Draucker: 26:01) This is them talking to a young alum who works for the Metropolitan Planning commission and on energy access and climate initiatives at the local level. And then first-year students taking them to different renewable energy facilities in the area during their leap trips. This is them at Barstow's in Hadley. I'm touring the ANAEROBIC digester. Just a few examples. Others I don't have pictures of -- our stats fellows are currently using the energy data that we've started collecting from our meters for helping us clean that data up there. Helping us try to identify if we can see the reduction from a recent lighting project we did in the first year dorms. Professor Carol's climate change class presented back to me their final projects on ways to reduce emissions on campus and a host of other opportunities that we can build upon. So, looking forward, how to further support this work, really envision working closely with interested academic departments and faculty members to determine how best to incorporate the climate action plan and climate action more broadly into their curriculum.
(Laura Draucker: 27:08) I'm meeting on Thursday with the environmental studies department to start that conversation there. Continuing and expanding the co-curricular partnerships that we've started forming with the Loeb Center with the CCE through to design think challenge global studies. We have some sustainability fellows this semester that are blogging about sustainability issues while abroad., and my other five college colleagues. And then providing significant opportunity and support for students to engage at the implementation of the climate action plan from internships to sitting on different boards of oversight. So really excited about moving this piece of the puzzle forward. I'm also looking at benchmarking in this regard. Swarthmore has a really interesting presidential research fellowship. It's a partnership between the office of the president, [indistinct] ability office, Environmental Studies and their equivalent to the CCE Group on campus to have students do in-depth sustainability projects, including the climate action plan throughout the semester.
(Laura Draucker: 28:11) Actually throughout a year. It's a year-long program. Carlton as they're implementing their plan, they are making sure they're integrating education as much as possible. This is a picture of a geology student examining soil samples. They've collected as many soil samples as they can to be able to be stored and used in the geology labs. They've also inserted temperature probes into the wells to be able to collect temperature data that can be used for class projects in a wide range of classes. Just some examples of classes that other institutions. At Yale, there's an econ class that explores their own internal carbon tax that they have. At Bowdoin there's a building resilience communities class where they're using case studies of the campus in that class on resiliency planning, and then art and sustainability at Dickinson where they are using art to express or draw attention to sustainability on-campus and beyond.
(Laura Draucker: 29:12) So next steps. We are in the process of moving forward with the design phase. I mentioned through my talk that there are some things... while we have a plan and we know the direction we're going in, there's some details that still need to be figured out where whether it's a centralized or distributed heat pump, for example. How quickly or slowly we do the implementation of this, where we will put the geothermal wells. So that's something that we're just about to identify design teams that will help us help us do that work. And then finalize the oversight structure for the implementation of the plan and then at the educational engagement piece that I hope to work with you all on. So that's it of my presentation. I'd love to take questions or discussions. I also want to plug an upcoming event with Rhiana Gunn-Wright who is an amazing woman, Rhodes scholar, Michelle Obama policy intern. She's going to be speaking--really the architect of the green new deal--and so she's going to be speaking about that. And the students are jazzed about this and please share with your students that may be interested.
(Speaker 1: 30:21) I wanted to know how many miles of pipes. You said Stanford was one mile of pipes. How many miles of pipes are we talking about at Amherst?
(Speaker 2: 30:36) About two miles, three miles. The budget's scale accordingly. It's 500 million dollars.
(Laura Draucker: 30:50) Yeah. So the analysis that we've done so far is assuming straight down wells, but if you, when you look to the Carlton example you can actually see where they have done a mixture. Yeah. So over here they've done horizontal wells and then they've got some vertical. And so we want to explore as part of this next design phase, whether we should do or in some of the peat places, particularly with some of the sporting fields if doing horizontal would be better.
(Speaker 3: 31:24) I'm curious about how much you've calculated in for maintenance of all these systems. So this is going to save money because we're not going to be buying energy, but how about all the people power,to keep the wells clean, you know, all that sort of stuff. Yeah, he'd done around.
(Speaker 4: 31:39) It's interesting in, in theory, the operational costs for staff is less. We buy license half day continuous monitoring of our boiler plant it now. With this new system without combustion that stolen or a code requirement. So there are some overdue and staffing costs would go down. In our modeling, we've projected that staffing will stay about the same, just to be conservative. There are more mechanical components that have to be monitored and audited, but very reliable. So we're not thinking that it's going to be exalted in that staffing increase at all. Probably flat, perhaps even a slight decrease.
(Speaker 5: 32:20) Talking about the amount of energy you put in and the amount of renewable you've had and what you get out. And you said it's like a 1.7, just curious, the new solar project that was announced that, how's that gonna affect that ratio? Are we going to, how much more are we going to make back? Like increasing the renewable that's going into that?
(Laura Draucker: 32:38) Yeah, great question. So in that particular situation that was referring to the renewable heat energy. So that's coming from the ground source or from those? The shoulder, shoulder. What we're going to need to do is electrical power in. So our total right now we create about half the electricity we use and we purchased the other half. So with the solar project, all of that purchased electricity is being covered by the new solar.
(Speaker 6: 33:07) Like that was, I realized this was the heat. It's the same with our current system.
(Laura Draucker: 33:14) Yeah. And so if we were able, if we were going to stick with our current infrastructure, we would be done buying renewable energy because we bought all that we can. So we're going to, as we transition, we're going to be using much less and less natural gas to run the plant and purchasing more and more electricity. So as we purchase more to run the heat pumps will be procuring more renewables.
(Speaker 4: 33:39) So this is a great question perhaps, is that where we'd be better off over time by renewable electricity to power purchase agreements such as what we've done or developing onsite resources utilizing some of the college's Land Holdings? That's a very interesting question because there's a lot of debate about whether it's solar panels on green fields are actually the most sustainable option. So know would we be able to do that. Preserve our agricultural base that we have right now with will comply with some of the cover crops that we do. But this will be something that plays out in parallel with the actual design of the infrastructure that it was to develop the strategies for sourcing renewable electricity. No, I'm sorry, just one other thing to add to that. Purely from a financial perspective. If you can produce the renewable electricity offsite one always has the transmission and distribution charges. If we were successful but onsite solar on our campus, we could then look at it and what's called behind the meter and then that eliminates Bob in its entirety of the transmission and distribution costs and allows for a much more efficient economical model. So those are, those are things that we're going to be about as well.
(Speaker 3: 35:09) Yeah, I kind of have a policy question all this that it's related to that. Maybe you don't know the answer to this yet, but if you were to, and I guess speaking of the green new deal, go to someone making these decisions, the Massachusetts State House, for example, what would be the most beneficial thing that they call this easier? Would it be subsidies for electrification? Would it be tax breaks for investments in electrification? Or would it just be making renewables themselves cheap given the mix of things that we're doing?
(Laura Draucker: 35:39) Yeah, I mean, that's a really great question. Yeah. I think one thing that we've seen our peer struggle with is interconnection. So I think that's a huge opportunity of sort of forcing the hand of the utilities more to play Nice with interconnection of these systems. Yeah, that would be off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are many others. The other, you know, there is with onsite solar because we're a nonprofit entity, we don't, we won't read the tax benefits that other entities reap, and we also won't be able to keep our renewable energy credits. So that's one of the challenges if you're really talking about decarbonizing, if you're putting onsite solar, it looks like you've decarbonized and you're selling all the recs to somewhere else. You actually can't claim those, those carbon reductions. UMass is a great example. They have a really a lot of amazing solar and they can't claim any of the reductions from that because they sell off all the Srx just cause they're so valuable in the marketplace. It would be impossible for them not to. So that's an interesting, I don't know what kind of policy changes that would require cause I think there's benefits to the REC program, but it does create these sort of interesting situations.
(Speaker 4: 37:04) Oh, are we running up against those problems with interconnection or is that something that
(Laura Draucker: 37:09) We aren't because we don't have any onsite solar. Are Williams, for example in Hampshire, both ran into significant interconnection challenges with their systems.
(Speaker 4: 37:22) One of the issues we tried to turn to connect the meter and we have a revolt solar field that has to cross a public way. There's a lot of debates about whether you can connect to a micro grid and cross or type of case studies on precedents that have been set. But that would be a bit of a battle for us as well to market is a mature enough for the regulation is really mature enough to allow that to happen by. Right. So like that publicly. Well, it's all by yeah. DCR So I think it would probably would be,
(Speaker 5: 38:05) I ended my question. Thank you, Laura. This was great and it was so nice to see also the additional information on the experiences by other campuses. That was something, it seems like you've added risk and I found that really helpful. Great. I was wondering if any of those other experiences or anything that engineers told you made you worry about the hill? We are, you know, on a large hill and it seems like the plan is to put the heat pump down the hill from where the needs are. Does that pose any problems that haven't been dealt with?
(Laura Draucker: 38:37) That's a good question. I'm not sure. I don't think so. I mean there, I mean I think that will impact of course. And they in court, they incorporated that into their analysis. But when we talk about looking at other locations, so some of the locations that had been mentioned, like maybe we put the wells on Tuttle hill or some are farther away from campus. The feedback we've gotten from the consultants is that the distance doesn't make a huge difference. So I imagine similar with the topography, but
(Speaker 4: 39:13) Are you thinking in terms of the pumping energy required to overcome the elevation difference for our systems are flowing down. We're about to go down hill. So what happened? Did you turn? It can go up and we'll, so we'll have to go down or something, which is a very flat campus. One would still need to impart pump energy in order to move the fluid through the piping to create the pressure differential to move it. In this case, it's a matter of sizing the pumps appropriately overcome what's called the elevation. From an engineering perspective, it's actually pretty straight forward to be able to move that fluid blew up. So then the other thing we can mention it as well too that gives us confidence about the heat transfer capacity of the wealth system is the work we did at the, with those wells have yielded good heat transfer. They're about 500 feet deep, ultimate extrapolate from the data of that project to look at what the heat temperature capacity for the system. Can we see the integral report?
(Laura Draucker: 40:31_ Yes. So we are finalizing the report that will be a written version of these slides and post pulling that together with the Integral report and the benchmarking.
(Speaker 4: 40:45) I just have one more quick question. Just from what you've learned so far, what are the pros and the cons of doing centralized versus distributed will be small enough that we can decentralize and it's not that big a deal or should we just,
(Laura Draucker: 40:57_ Yeah, I mean, so I think actually Jim and I disagree a little bit. It's centralized versus distributed. But I think that the proof is centralized is that it's a bit cheaper. You do aren't, you don't have extra heat pumps, so you're just kind of having one system. Probably easier to maintain to Katherine's point earlier of, of staffing needs. The proof distributed is that it does create a little bit more resiliency and redundancy in the system. Which is important as we look to more extreme weather events and things like that. It also may allow us to do it, although I think with both systems we could do it in a bit of a phased approach. I think distributed allows for more of a, of a thoughtful phased. So
(Speaker 4: 41:51) Certainly partnering with Kevin and his team as we think about the financial potential. Lot of potential benefits as well to distributors or would you be more opportunistic about basis is to say when we do major projects, we could create the district at the science center fairly significant. First major district. You have a table. We can also note too that maybe I'm showing my bias too much about distributor still is that it is a hedge against the enhancements, technological enhancements over time. There's the, if we move forward once a decentralized plant, now if there are technological advancements of efficiency improvements, pumps, the next traunch that we do, the next phase could be using that.
(Speaker 5: 43:02) You said, you know, if your screen like extremely cold, whatever we have now, I mean, yeah, great question.
(Laura Draucker: 43:15) So we will need to retain some type of combustion technology and we can sort of integrate that in, in any, in any part of the puzzle. So we could have a, we could keep one of our boilers, for example, at our centralized plant and if it's a really cold day, it could insert energy into the system and we could have boilers in the districts are in smaller places on campus. So that's, that raises a question about neutrality and at some point we're going to have to tackle, which again I think would be a wonderful student inquiry. Whether we offs, we use natural gas in offset or whether we do a bio gas in those situations and whether we think biogas is really a sustainable source solution or not. But with improved building, uh, buildings, we'll hopefully be able to limit that to two small situations.
(Speaker 4: 44:13) Oh, a little bit about that education piece because it seems so important. I'm sitting here thinking we needed a new studies, maybe energy technology to try to facilitate student engagement. I don't know, maybe you could share your thoughts about what if we were to be able to get a new faculty person, like what will the, would be most help describe this sort of people to engage with this project that's going to happen for many years and we'd seem like a student educational opportunities. I think the first thing that he would look like look at is, is that a liberal arts field? And so the sound of that position sounds complicated, community to get through. So I think part of what we have to be talking about is how do you shape an FTE that looks right. And is that really the best way to cut? There may be other ways to go. You could imagine potentially having someone to CCE or something like that. And I'm so, I'm not sure that an FTE and that kind of an area is the right way to be thinking about it. But it's certainly an interesting idea.
(Speaker 3: 45:24) One way I would frame it is crime policy will generally work. Yeah. There might be. Just thinking on that, there might be, are there resources that we could leverage it UMass or there, you know, where there perhaps are more focused on bonds or people that are doing things to help us build some of the curriculum things or other Five College things where there are projects where all the colleges are even challenging each other to do different and initiatives or something like that. It's just awesome. So that might be, that might be,
(Laura Draucker: 45:55) I certainly think policy is, is the, is probably the route to go because it's going to cover the covers so much. And I think to Ashwyn's points earlier, I mean, that's really what's gonna drive systematic change. And, and so, and, and if you look to Smith, for example, with their higher of Alex Baron, you know, he's a policy person who is getting engaged in lots of these different questions about offs of the lily of offsets, renewable energy credits, how to do a system like this and make it work. So but I think the five college ideas are really interesting when I know we have the sustainability certificate that is not utilized at all by our students. But I wonder with Smith, US and mount Holyoke also less so, but looking at these options of transitioning their energy systems, if we couldn't reframe that around some of these transitions that I'm really just thinking off the top of my head there. But that could be an interesting discussion to have.
(Speaker 5: 47:05) What else?
(Speaker 3: 47:14) If it's a climate policy person or something like that, we're the, you know, the pis researches in the politicking solutions. That sounds good. That sounds good. That's probably the way to frame, and that's what our students will go out on solve, right? I mean that their brain. So they will go out and solve those problems if we get them thinking about those things. So there's an opportunity to like you could go over the entire course around catchments question. You. Got It.
(Laura Drauker 1: 47:56) Well, wonderful. Well thank you. I'll look forward to continuing the conversation with some of you this week and hopefully others of you at a later date.