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UNH Completes Nation's First Major Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
May 20, 2009

Mike Ross, Photo Services
UNH’s EcoLine™is a ground-breaking landfill gas-to-energy project that will use purified methane gas from a Waste Management landfill as the campus’s main energy source. Mike Ross, Photo Services

UNH’s EcoLine™, a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses purified methane gas from a nearby landfill to power the campus, is complete, university officials announced. The five million square-foot campus will receive up to 85 percent of its electricity and heat from purified natural gas, making UNH the first university in the nation to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source.

“This massive project, more than four years in the making, will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and stabilize our fuel source and costs,” says President Mark Huddleston. “EcoLine™ showcases UNH’s fiscal and environmental responsibility and secures our leadership position in sustainability.”

EcoLine™ is a partnership with Waste Management’s Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) in Rochester, where the naturally occurring by-product of landfill decomposition is collected via a state-of-the-art collection system consisting of more than 300 extraction wells and miles of collection pipes.

> View an animation of how EcoLine™ works.

After the gas is purified and compressed at a new UNH processing plant at TREE, it travels through a 12.7-mile-pipeline from the landfill to UNH’s cogeneration plant, where it will replace commercial natural gas as the primary fuel source. In operation since 2006, UNH’s cogeneration plant captures waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and uses this energy to heat campus buildings.

Total cost of the project, which included construction of the pipeline and the processing plant at TREE, is $49 million. UNH will sell the renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by using landfill gas through 2012 to help finance the overall cost of the project and to invest in additional energy efficiency projects on campus. In addition, UNH will sell power in excess of campus needs back to the electric grid.

“By selling the RECs from EcoLine™, UNH will further fund its aggressive plan toward climate neutrality,” says Tom Kelly, UNH chief sustainability officer and director of the office of sustainability. “With this climate action plan, called WildCAP, UNH has committed lowering its emissions 50 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2080.”

UNH is a leader in conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and integrating sustainability throughout its curricula, operations, research, and engagement efforts. Committed to being a climate protection campus that pursues a sustainable energy future through emissions reduction policies, practices, research, and education, UNH has earned several awards for its sustainability initiatives, which range from an undergraduate dual major in EcoGastronomy and organic dairy research to having the largest transit system in the state and being the first in the nation to receive an EPA Energy Star building rating for residence halls. Discover the sustainable learning community at UNH at www.sustainableunh.unh.edu and discoversustainability.org.

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