Sustainable Energy Program

About Our Sustainable Energy Program

As part of its ongoing commitment to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Dartmouth is making progress on our sustainable energy program, which will move the campus closer to meeting our Sustainable Energy Goals.

Over the past 15 years, Dartmouth has been implementing energy efficiency improvements to existing facilities, and designing new high-performance facilities, to reduce both operating costs and campus greenhouse gases. See the results of these efforts thus far.

Our current and ongoing priority is conversion of Dartmouth's heating distribution system from steam to low-temperature hot-water, which we anticipate will improve the efficiency of the campus heating distribution system by about 20%. In addition, unlike steam, a hot-water distribution system can utilize non-combustion, low-carbon energy sources that Dartmouth is investigating, including geothermal, solar thermal, and heat pumps.

We recently completed construction of the first portion—about 10%—of the campus hot-water network, which now serves the heating systems in the Irving Institute and the Engineering and Computer Science Center (ECSC) ildings. New low-temperature hot-water heating systems are under construction in Dartmouth Hall and and have been completed in Reed, Thornton, and Anonymous Halls. 

Design is underway for installation of low-temperature hot-water heating systems and energy efficiency improvements in several other buildings, including the Rauner Special Collections Library, Rollins Chapel, Hopkins Center for the Arts, and Burke Hall. Dartmouth has also installed rooftop solar systems at  the Irving Institute, ECSC, Graham Indoor Practice Facility, Anonymous Hall, and the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing boathouse.

Additionally, Dartmouth continues to evaluate a range of alternative heat-generation sources— such as heat pump and geothermal systems, solar thermal, and a large-scale solar photovoltaic field—which could be implemented over time.

Geothermal Well Testing

Dartmouth is drilling geothermal test wells in several locations on the Dartmouth campus between Sept. 27 and mid-October.  This testing will determine whether these are good locations for future geothermal wells, which are among several energy system technologies Dartmouth is investigating to transition the campus to a non-combustable energy future.

Director of Sustainability Rosi Kerr '97 invited the community to stop by the first testing site to discuss the test drilling underway. The four well locations and their approximate dates for drilling are as follows, although start/end dates could vary slightly depending on how the drilling efforts progress.

  • between the Maynard parking lot and Kellogg Hall, Sept. 27-29;
  • northeast of Scully-Fahey Field, Sept. 29-Oct. 3;
  • between Burnham Field and the Thompson parking lot, Oct. 3-7; and
  • in the northwest corner of the Dewey parking lot, Oct. 10-13.

Other active energy projects include energy efficiency upgrades in buildings and infrastructure, exploring large-scale solar projects, and transitioning from steam to more efficient hot-water heating.

Other Projects Underway

  • Utility Infrastructure:
    • Integrated low-carbon energy supply/building conversion detailed study
    •  Design of campus-wide hot-water and chilled-water networks
  • New Construction and Building Renovation Projects, incorporating low temperature hot-water heating systems:
  • Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Projects:
    • Burke Hall deep energy retrofit and hot-water conversion project
    • Rauner Special Collections Library deep energy retrofit and hot-water conversion project
    • Campus LED lighting conversion

Completed Projects

  • Utility Infrastructure Projects:
    • North to West Utility Extension: This project, completed in 2020, brought new hot- and chilled-water networks, new communications pathways, and new electrical distribution systems to the west campus. 

Infrastructure Renewal Funding

At its March 2021 meeting, Dartmouth's Board of Trustees approved creation of an Infrastructure Renewal Fund (IRF) to address critical infrastructure upgrades and renewal. With funding from a percentage of supplemental endowment distribution, the IRF will fund projects that meet certain infrastructure renewal criteria which include:

  • Improve Dartmouth's infrastructure, including facilities, utilities, and information technologies, used by a broad cross-section of the Dartmouth community,
  • Provide lasting intergenerational benefit to the Dartmouth community, and
  • Extend the useful life, modernize, or improve the energy or operating efficiency of a facility, campus component, or campus system.

All projects funded by the IRF will be reviewed and approved by trustees as part of the annual capital budget.

Project Team

The Sustainable Energy Program is being led by an Energy Steering Committee: Abbe Bjorklund, Director of Engineering & Utilities; Susan Boutwell, Senior Director for Content; Julie Findley, COO of Campus Services; Scott Frew, Chief Financial Officer; Scott Hening, Energy Program Manager; Josh Keniston, SVP of Capital Planning and Campus Operations; Rosi Kerr; Director of Sustainability; and Frank Roberts, AVP of Facilities Operations & Management