The College’s 2017 Carbon Footprint

Holy Cross’ efforts continue to show! The College’s carbon footprint is almost 48% less than in 2007, with 12,053 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCDE) recorded for 2017. Heating and cooling continues to be the biggest carbon emitter (and the greatest focus for the Department of Facilities). Waste and the Holy Cross vehicle fleet are the smallest emitters at less than 2% each.

heating boiler with metal pipes above
Holy Cross’ central heating plant, fueled by natural gas.

Heating & Cooling
During those nippy nights and scorching summers, Holy Cross’ physical plant takes the spotlight. At the heart of campus, and the College’s carbon footprint, the physical plant heats 67% of Holy Cross’ buildings. Natural gas fuels this process. To maximize efficiency, consequently cutting carbon emissions, the College has updated boiler controls and added insulation to steam pipes.

Don’t worry, the College hasn’t ignored the other 33% of campus buildings. A neat infrared camera system measures building surface temperatures, which allows Facilities employees to identify and rectify heat loss. Individual buildings also possess energy recovery systems and extensive insulation to keep comfortable air indoors and unwanted air outdoors.

Renewable Electricity
Holy Cross uses quite a bit of electricity each year. In 2017, the campus used 21,490,864 kilowatt hours. That’s equivalent to watching over 53.5 billion cat videos! However, electricity accounts for zero percent of the College’s carbon footprint. Why? Holy Cross purchased a long term contract for hydropower (electricity fueled by moving water). Considered a renewable fuel source, hydropower produces zero carbon emissions.

Commuting & Travel
Not only does Holy Cross account for carbon emissions produced on campus, but the College includes emissions produced by Holy Cross community members engaged in college-related activities (think: faculty attending conferences, staff driving to work, or student-athletes heading to games). Thus, the College includes commuting and air travel in its annual carbon footprint. Unfortunately, commuting and travel emissions have increased by almost 25% since 2007.

#Composting is trending! Kimball Main Dining Hall & Kimball Food Court recycle or compost 100% of all waste. This helps Holy Cross reduce its trash stream, and also offsets some of the College’s carbon footprint. The composting process takes carbon out of the air, which subtracts tonnage off the overall footprint. Meaning? The more Holy Cross composts, the better for the College’s carbon footprint! In 2017, Holy Cross offset 36 tons of carbon through composting, the equivalent of 145,991 burritos.

Sustainability Upgrades Made by Facilities (Part 1)

Less visible projects, like improving heating and cooling efficiency, stay hidden but drastically impact the Holy Cross’ carbon footprint. John Cannon, the director of facilities operations, reveals these hidden projects that continue to advance the College’s environmental goals.

LED Lighting: 75% less energy than incandescent lighting
A rugged and long-lasting solution, LED fixtures contain no mercury and offer high efficiency lighting with no warm-up period. According to the United States Department of Energy, LED lighting uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Holy Cross continues to convert campus indoor and outdoor lighting to LED fixtures.
Outdoor light post in front of Worcester skyline

High Efficiency Windows: Less air loss = more energy saving
The Department of Facilities has replaced old windows to high efficiency windows in Alumni Hall, Hanselman Hall, and Lehy Hall. The increased insulation reduces the amount of indoor air that escapes to the outdoors.
Two closed windows from outside Alumni Hall

EV Charging Stations: Made possible by MassDEP & National Grid
The College installed four dual-port electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the parking garage in 2019 through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and a rebate from the National Grid.

Annual Testing: Eliminating leaks & increasing efficiency
Beyond highly insulated steam piping throughout campus, the Facilities Department tests every steam trap annually to eliminate leaks. Less leaks equals better energy conservation.
Black steam trap

Variable Frequency Drives: Aligning energy output with need
A variable frequency drive (VFD) controls power to a motor so supply and demand match. Need an analogy? Instead of running a blender on high to smooth that room temperature avocado, the blender automatically runs on low for the avocado and high to crush that frozen strawberry.
Control panel of variable speed drive

Upgraded Heating Controls: Adhering to the Energy Conservation Policy
Holy Cross’ Energy Conservation Policy, revised in early 2009, is designed to improve operating efficiency and reduce the cost of energy consumption. The College aims to have building temperatures about 70 degrees in the winter and 74 degrees in the summer.
White heating control

Hydration Stations: Fostering a reuse culture
Hydration stations promote reusable beverage containers throughout the Holy Cross community. Consequently, the College reinforces its efforts to slash trash production.
Hydration station built into wooden wall