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2009 News Releases

Longwood receives grant for study on increasing campus energy efficiency

November 2, 2009

Rick Myers of Longwood receives a check from Susie Hampton of the Old Dominion RC&D Council for a grant that will fund an energy feasibility study Longwood will conduct Rick Myers of Longwood receives a check from Susie Hampton of the Old Dominion RC&D Council for a grant that will fund an energy feasibility study Longwood will conduct.

Longwood University has received a $4,000 grant to fund a feasibility study for a new energy project it hopes to develop.

The grant from the Old Dominion Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council will help Longwood study the possibility of producing electricity and chilled water from the steam generated by the university's two wood-fired boilers. The Old Dominion RC&D Council is a regional nonprofit organization that in recent years has been helping Longwood locate funding opportunities to develop alternative energy.

The engineering study, which will be done by Affiliated Engineers Inc., will examine the feasibility of using steam in the summer to power steam absorption chillers for air-conditioning campus buildings. This process also will recover energy from the steam to generate electricity year-round, resulting in significant savings by reducing the purchase of electricity from Dominion Virginia Power.

"We hope to learn from the study the feasibility of using steam to produce chilled water and electricity," said Kelly Martin, Longwood's sustainability coordinator. "Our chillers now are powered by electricity, and we want to harness steam to produce electricity from a renewable energy source. We're already using steam, from our wood-fired boiler in the heating plant, to provide hot water and heat to campus buildings.

"If the results of this study are favorable, we will be able to reduce our reliance on Dominion Virginia Power, save money, and also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," Martin added. "Longwood is committed to being a sustainable campus and exploring the use of renewable energy sources."

Longwood since 1983 has heated with sawdust (mostly pine and some hardwood), which is relatively inexpensive and more environmentally responsible than oil or coal. After the new heating plant comes online in early 2010, it will supply 100 percent of the campus' heat and hot water needs. The new plant will have a new wood-fired boiler as well as a wood-fired boiler that is being moved from the current plant.

The Old Dominion RC&D Council, headquartered in Charlotte Courthouse, initiates and coordinates resource conservation and development programs that enhance the social, economic, and environmental quality in 10 counties in Southside Virginia. It focuses on programs in community development, land management and conservation, and water quality. The funding for the grant came from the Virginia Association of RC&D Councils from conference proceeds when Virginia hosted the Southeast Region Conference of the National Association of RC&D Councils in September 2008 in Wytheville, Va.

"The money from the conference was used as seed money to fund grants in alternative energy and green infrastructure," said Dave Roberts, coordinator of the Old Dominion RC&D Council. "We've worked with Longwood for several years on alternative energy, and we knew what Longwood was doing with with sawdust. This looked like a good fit."

A check for the grant was presented by Susie Hampton, vice president of the Old Dominion RC&D Council and the member who represents Prince Edward County, to Rick Myers, director of Longwood's Facilities, during the council's Community Sustainability and Awareness Social on Sept. 30. Longwood staff members Kelly Martin and Louise Waller, space planning and real property manager, also attended the event, held at the Heartland Business Park near Keysville.

Member counties of the Old Dominion RC&D Council are Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward. The council is one of seven such councils in Virginia and 375 in the United States. Programs by RC&D councils are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.