Alternative Heating Comes to the Loj

As part of the University’s Sustainability Initiative, Colgate’s environmentally conscious selective living residence, the Loj, has begun a brand new project. In the upcoming weeks the Loj, located at 70 Broad Street, will be installing a biofuel heater that will allow the residence to be heated solely by vegetable oil.

This pilot project began last summer when Colgate University signed on to the President’s Climate Commitment to endeavor to make the campus free of carbon emissions. Last summer, senior Ben Taylor and Sustainability Coordinator John Pumilio, discovered some startling statistics about Colgate’s carbon footprint. Last year the University emitted 18,965 tons of greenhouse gases due to waste products of the central heating plant on campus.

To solve this problem Pumilio and several students involved with the sustainability project, looked into alternative options for oil. By chance, Pumilio was introduced to Robert Andrews ’95, a Colgate alumnus who works at GoVo Biofuels in Syracuse. The company helps to create and manage biofuel systems and grease recycling. After research, planning and engineering help from Associate Director of Facilities Pete Babich and Associate Vice President of Facilities Paul Fick, Pumilio was certain that Colgate could bring alternative oil heating to campus.

The next issue of concern was a location for this project. Because of its deep-rooted connections to the environment and green living, Pumilio decided, “of all places to pilot, the Loj would be especially great.”

The residents of the Loj welcomed the project with open arms.

“If the Loj is intended to be an environmental community, then it should be,” Student Government Policy Coordinator and Loj resident senior Shae Frydenlund said. Frydenlund believes the Loj should “set a model for sustainable living.”

Economically, the benefits of greener heating can not be ignored. By using the biofuel heater, the Loj will spend an average of $1.75 per gallon of vegetable oil instead of the $2.30 per gallon that it costs the rest of the campus to heat by fuel oil #2. This year the Loj is projected to save $1,112 on heating because of their use of alternative oil.

For Pumilio, the next step of this project is to expand the use of alternative oils to campus buildings outside of the Loj. He hopes to bring biofuel heating to all of the Broad Street homes, the Sanford Field House and the twenty or more buildings on campus that are not connected directly to the central heating plant.

According to Pumilio, the disadvantages of this project are limited. They include maintaining a certain temperature for the heater and making sure there is enough vegetable oil in supply.

“Maybe it’ll smell a bit like french fries, but who cares?” Frydenlund said of the possible downsides of using vegetable oil.

This sustainability project is one of many similar projects on campus. Other projects that the Student Government Association has implemented around campus include initiatives to get local food in dining halls, composting in Curtiss E. Frank Dining Hall, incentives to re-use coffee cups in the Hieber Café and the Greenest Videos contest.