CSUN’s continued plan to remain sustainability

Matthew Ashman

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Each year, CSUN’s Physical Plant Management (PPM) continues to make the university a greener, more sustainable campus, and this year is no different as they’ve implemented five priorities for maximizing energy efficiency around campus.

Currently, they are working on improving central plant and utility infrastructure reliability and efficiency, which pertains to the campus’ central plant providing heating and cooling to facilities.

“We are installing new boilers right now,”  said Lynn Wiegers, Interim Executive Director of Facilities Management at CSUN.  “Originally the plan was designed with two large boilers and they are not made to cycle a lot.”

PPM is now replacing those two boilers and adding in three additional smaller boilers to give it the flexibility during colder seasons when boilers are needed most.

According to Wiegers, these plans have been in motion for about 18 months.  The plan will cost around $2 million, and will come out of the PPM budget and also from a deferred maintenance budget.

CSUN is one of the few institutions in the world with a fuel cell plant, a completely sustainable device that helps produce electricity, heat and water, according to Bill Sullivan, energy manager of PPM.

“Fuel cell plants run at 45 percent electrical efficiency,” Sullivan said.  “It’s the battery that never needs to charge.”

Sullivan also said that to this day, CSUN is the only facility in the world to install a fuel cell plant by itself.

“The difference between CSUN and almost every other university is that we have done all of these projects in-house,” Wiegers said.

Wiegers refers not just to the fuel cell plant, but to various green projects that have been completed around campus, including the solar panel installations that you can see in a few of the parking lots on campus.

Other ways CSUN is improving sustainability on campus is by supporting greening initiatives across the university by promoting sustainability research, improving student education in sustainability, and implementing the best practices by collaborating with various campus departments, according to Sarah Johnson, department coordinator for the Institute for Sustainability at CSUN.

“One can see how sustainable CSUN is by walking through the campus and admiring the Valley Performing Arts Center, Chaparral Hall, matador bicycle compounds, Orange Grove, fuel cell and rainforest,” Johnson said.

Johnson goes on to say that the institute’s primary activities are carried out by the Green Core Team, which is made up of faculty members from a variety of disciplines, staff and students.

The Green Core Team initiates project ideas, educational activities, research and data collection related to sustainability on campus, according to Johnson.

“The institute encourages CSUN students, faculty and staff to get involved with sustainability initiatives,” Johnson said.  “We can all work together to make CSUN a more sustainable campus.”

The priorities are listed in greater depth on PPM’s website.

In honor of Earth Day, the institute will be hosting an orange pick event at the CSUN grove on Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Volunteers are needed to pick oranges that will be donated to local food pantries to feed the hungry.