Paul Smith's College, NYSERDA partner on renewable energy

By Paul Smith's College | December 11, 2014

Paul Smith's College is installing a highly sustainable, state-of-the-art wood-pellet boiler system, which will heat its three academic buildings. 

This project is one of the first uses in New York State of a high-efficiency and low-emission wood pellet boiler heating system to heat multiple buildings, and one of five sites in the North Country planning to install this technology. 

Other sites include the Olympic Regional Training Center in Lake Placid, North Country Community College's Sparks Athletic Complex in Saranac Lake, the Indian Lake School and the North Country School in Lake Placid. 

The project was partially supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, which encourages local communities across the state to become more sustainable and energy efficient. 

“We are very excited to get this system up and running,” says Steve McFarland, vice president for Capital Projects at Paul Smith’s. “This wood-pellet fueled mini-district heating grid has the potential to become the standard heating method for institutions and homeowners in the region, and Paul Smith’s is excited to serve as the model.” 

This new technology is being advanced by Renewable Heat NY, which encourages growth of the high-efficiency, low-emission biomass heating industry. The program also supports quicker development of this industry, raises consumer awareness and encourages local sustainable heating markets and sustainable forestry. 

"The investment by Paul Smith's College, along with these other North Country projects, will result in energy savings using a locally grown renewable energy resource," said John B. Rhodes, president and CEO, NYSERDA. "This is a great example of the type of project that Governor Cuomo seeks to promote through the Renewable Heat NY program – projects that reduce emissions and are models for others to follow." 

The wood pellet boiler will contribute to Paul Smith’s renewable energy and climate change goals, displacing 28,000 gallons per year of heating oil with renewable wood-pellet fuel. That translates to reducing 320 tons of fossil fuel emissions every year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 47 passenger vehicles. 

Paul Smith's system also makes use of thermal storage, a technology that increases the efficiency of the boiler. The system will heat a total of 70,000 square feet, saving the college up to $50,000 a year. The total cost of the project is approximately $600,000. 

The project design and installation are being monitored and evaluated by NYSERDA to ensure its energy and environmental performance. The containerized wood-pellet boiler system will be tied into the academic buildings’ existing heating systems. 

Key features of Paul Smith's new wood pellet heating system: 

–      Savings: The system will pay for itself in 15 years.

–      Supporting the local forest industry: Bulk wood pellets from Curran Renewable Energy in Massena, N.Y., are sourced from local, sustainably harvested, FSC Certified woodlots.

–      Keeping jobs in the local economy: When you heat with imported oil, 75 percent of the money leaves the state. Now, all the energy dollars will remain in the local community.

–      Teaching and learning opportunities: A web-enabled boiler-monitoring system will track boiler performance and provide real-time energy performance data. 

Paul Smith’s wood pellet boiler system is manufactured by EvoWorld in Troy, New York, and has been independently verified to achieve greater than 93 percent efficiency. It achieves exceptionally low emissions, verified to meet the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency standards. 

In 2007, Paul Smith’s was among the first to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The college’s current Climate Action Plan lists its carbon neutrality date as 2029. The installation of the pellet boiler is a significant step toward carbon neutrality.