SIP Phase Two Complete, Phase Three to Wrap Up in 2025

The College completed most of the second phase of the three-stage Sustainable Infrastructure Project over the summer. The ongoing project, which has a target completion year of 2025, is slated to improve energy efficiency on campus by 30 percent and save the College $1 million annually in energy costs.

One major facet of the project involves switching some buildings’ heating infrastructures from steam heating to hot-water-based heating. In the buildings where this change has taken place, the hot water used for heating is heated using natural gas. However, eventually this water will be heated by electric heat pumps. Campus Energy & Resource Manager Joel Baetens described the benefits of this change.

“Using 140 Fahrenheit water for heating instead of 240 Fahrenheit steam has many benefits,” Baetens wrote in an email to the Review. “It is safer, more efficient, easier to control, and most of all, can be produced with renewable and clean energy.”

Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology John Petersen, OC ’88, who has sat on committees that have played a role in designing the SIP, made note of the project’s additional progress this summer on installing the pipelines that extend from campus buildings to campus athletic fields, eventually connecting to geothermal wells, which are yet to be constructed.

“It will take another year or so to get the wells installed and operational, but once they are we will be able to switch most heating and cooling from natural gas to 100 percent green electricity — that will get us very close to our goal,” Petersen wrote in an email to the Review.

The construction this summer resulted in various street and parking lot closures. An Aug. 3 Campus Digest email indicated that the SIP should not cause any additional summer road closures.

The next phase of the project will focus on converting other campus buildings to the district hot water system and installing electric heat pumps and geothermal wells. Air conditioning will also be installed in multiple buildings across campus during this phase.

“Where it makes sense, we are adding AC to buildings,” Baetens wrote. “This also provides comfort for occupants and opens up campus to be more utilized in the summer.” Phase three of the SIP will begin in summer 2023.