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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

The hot and cold of it
March 22, 2012 - 5:14pm

My evolving vision of a sustainable campus in a sustainable city includes university-connected mixed-use space around the campus edge(s). Key advantages of such space include minimizing the need for travel as well as making provision of energy-efficient travel/transit options far easier.

But another advantage has to do with climate, especially if (as this year without a winter seems to corroborate) the climate is already changing noticeably. Relatively large, multi-story enclosed spaces are just more efficient to heat and cool than are a larger number of detached individual spaces.  Enclose the same amount of volume, first in a large cube and secondly as a hundred little Monopoly-house-shaped containers -- you'll find the cube has far less total surface area, and so far less total exposure to ambient climate conditions.

In addition to the advantage of less surface area, it's more efficient to have one heating/cooling plant which controls temperatures inside that cube than it is to have 100 separate furnaces/boilers/central AC units. Even 100 separate atmospheric heat pumps.

And, if the mixed-use space has some legitimate university connection or other qualifying not-for-profit ownership, hooking it up to an existing campus (or other district) heating/cooling system can create even further economies of scale.

In other parts of the USA, offering a cool summertime living environment at a reduced cost might be very attractive in the marketplace. Up here in the Great NorthEast, affordable wintertime heating is probably a bigger draw.  (Of course, that may be about to change. If it isn't, already.)



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