How to heat a campus with purified waste vegetable oil.

Position::SUSTAINABILITY
 
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Keene State College in New Hampshire made headlines this fall after becoming the first and only U.S. college to heat part of campus with a 100 percent purified waste vegetable oil. Besides helping to fulfilla commitment to reducing Keene State's greenhouse gas footprint--formalized in 2007 as an early signatory of what's now called the Carbon Commitment--the move was meant to encourage other colleges to follow suit. Here are the five steps administrators say it takes to make the shift:

1 Know the financial and environmental impact.

Keene State facilities and sustainability administrators got the college's vice president of finance and planning, its contract specialist and its budget officer on board by presenting research on various fuel sources, including vegetable oil, for heating the campus.

--Financial plus: Because vegetable oil is considered a renewable fuel, the college qualifies for renewable energy credits and state incentives.

2 Ensure compatibility with existing equipment.

Central steam distribution heats about three-quarters of Keene State's campus. The college's fuel oil tank supplier and boiler manufacturer both signed off on burning the vegetable oil, which is considered carbon neutral, using current infrastructure.

3 Find a vendor.

Massachusetts-based Lifecycle Renewables was selected. The only other RFPs received involved biodiesel, not vegetable oil. The purified vegetable oil's screening process makes it...

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