Sustainable strides: University earns PEER certification

The University is the 2nd in the world to achieve this status

Erin Hausmann, Senior Writer

The University has recently become the second university and fourth organization worldwide to be awarded Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER) certification from the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) for the energy efficiency displayed by the Bucknell Cogeneration Plant since its installment in 1998. The plant supplies 90 percent of the electricity used both on campus and for the local utility grid.

“PEER certification is relatively new and recognizes us as a world leader in terms of best practices for how to manage electrical distribution,” Associate Vice President for Facilities Ken Ogawa said in a press release.

PEER is a third-party certification program that rewards the implementation of the best industry practices as well as the utilization of new, innovative strategies. The certification recognizes programs based on reliability, resiliency, energy efficiency, operational effectiveness, and consumer contribution.

The Cogeneration Plant operation has made strides in sustainability and energy efficiency since its conception. It has reduced the University’s carbon footprint by more than 40 percent from 1996 levels and has supplied 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity to the local utility, displacing electricity generated primarily from coal.

“Our staff has always made an effort to operate the plant in the most efficient and reliable way possible.  The PEER certification recognizes the success of those efforts,” Director for Energy and Utilities Jim Knight said. “We’ve also invested a great deal of money and effort [in] the past into improving the electrical systems that deliver power to each building. PEER gives us an objective measure of our performance, but [is] also valuable in pointing out areas where we can take steps to improve further.”

Not only is the Cogeneration Plant efficient; it is also reliable. Over the past three years, the rare unscheduled power outages that have occurred have averaged less than seven minutes per year.

Reliable power on campus is vital to the living and working environment, and this award can be seen as an important milestone to students who are interested in the University’s environmental footprint and commitment to energy efficiency.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction and I hope that this will help increase awareness here on campus about environmental issues, ” environmental science major Camryn Goldstein ’20 said.

“This news furthers [the University’s] commitment toward sustainability in a rapidly-changing and environmentally-focused world,” Craig Silverman ’20, undeclared, said.

The process for achieving PEER certification includes meeting all prerequisites and getting the required number of criteria points. PEER criteria lays out innovative strategies that operators can implement to reduce carbon emissions, improve greater power quality, and maximize efficiency.

“Hopefully, [PEER status] also makes the campus community aware of the value our generation and delivery systems provide to the campus. For example, anyone on campus is able to view the electricity usage in buildings through the EcoScreen system (donated by the Class of 2015) through the Facilities website,” Knight said.

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