Reducing "The Footprint"
December 9th 2011 · 1 Comment
BY MARK ZIOBRO
If you’re planning on attending Herkimer Country Community College this coming semester, be advised that in addition to going to class, you’ll be going green.
That’s the message that Documentary Filmmaker Alex Stronach, Digital Filmmaking major at HCCC is hoping to get across, and to back up his message he’s filmed and produced a documentary on the college’s continuing steps to decrease their carbon footprint.
The movie, entitled “The Footprint” takes a look at the practical steps the college has taken thus far, while keeping an eye on more energy-saving and pollution-reducing opportunities for the future.
Following the documentary, HCCC has installed new lighting, both indoors and outdoors, that is more energy efficient and that conserves power.
“We took out a lot of outdated, or at least less energy-efficient lighting in the gym, and put brand new, state-of-the-art fluorescent lights that operate at about 50% reduction in actual wattage,” said Tom Stock, HCCC Director of Facilities.
LED Retrofitted Streetlights were another way the school is looking into saving money, seen on one of the lampposts lining the hill leading up to the school. Once the price for installing these lamps comes down, the school would be poised for installing these energy-efficient devices.
Efficient lighting is a step in the right direction, but is not all that the school is looking at to reduce energy use and make what energy it does consume, more efficient. Wind turbines, a common site in such places as the Hardscrabble Wind Farm, near Fairfield, NY are being looked into as a way to supply power to the school through the use of such turbines on school property.
“It would be situated to provide energy to our campus, whenever the wind was turning,” said Stock.
In addition to wind turbines, Stock also mentioned several other energy-saving techniques the school is exploring. Among them: “Cogeneration”– a means to generate electricity on-site, using a natural gas turbine, allowing the school to generate electricity at a lower Kilowatt Hour Cost, while using the waste heat to heat its swimming pool and the domestic hot water used for showers.
“The thing about [Cogeneration] is there’s a lot of waste heat,” said Stock. “In order to make it efficient, you have to find a use for your waste heat.”
The school has also installed a new, state-of-the-art chiller, which uses a magnetic bearing, allowing the machine to put out more cooling at a reduced cost, with the bonus of being half the size of their previous machine.
“We’ve found ways to make electricity work for us harder, and consume less power in the process,” Stock said.
On the docket for the school in the future? Several projects, such as replacing their boilers with new, more efficient ones.
“They’re old,” said Stock. “They’re workhorses–they’re very good at what they do, but the fact that they’re old, efficiency tends to go down. They need to be replaced, they need to be more efficient.”
Compost is also being looked into as a way for HCCC to cut down its waste, by taking food waste from the cafeteria and food prep, and taking it to the school’s “Earth Tub,” which transforms the waste into compost, which can then be used as compost or topsoil for the school.
Highlighting the school’s energy-saving capabilities and future projects, has been a way for Stronach to fulfill class requirements while leaving his own “green” footprint on the school himself.
“The project was done for my Conservation and Environment class,” he said. “I had heard about a couple of the things that the school had done recently, like the lighting in the gym, and thought it would be a fun idea to cover for a film.”
According to Stronach, the video has been well received, and gotten the message across. “Everyone I talk to seemed to really enjoy it, and my professor said I really went above and beyond. She wants to try and get it on the school’s main website.”
Set to graduate in a few weeks, Stronach stated he wished to continue documentary-making after graduating.
“The ‘Going Green’ project was more fun than I anticipated,” he said. “I’d like to see if I can find a project along the lines of documentary filmmaking in the future.”
To watch “The Footprint” visit the following link: http://blip.tv/tact-news/the-footprint-5760911. And keep an eye on HCCC as they continue to support education while conserving energy in the process.
By Mark Ziobro