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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2004
CONTACT: Jette Englund
Office of University Relations
(908) 737-3410

Kean University Gets NJHEPS' Highest Mark for Emissions Reductions

New Academic Building II First to Receive LEED Certification in New Jersey

UNION, N.J. – Kean University generated the highest percentage of emissions reductions – 47 percent – among New Jersey higher-education institutions between 1990 and 2002, according to a New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS) report, Greenhouse Gas Action Plan (GGAP): Achievements, Challenges and A Look Ahead. Results show that, “In absolute terms, nine of 23 institutions are currently attaining GGAP levels of emissions reductions,” with Kean taking a commanding lead of 47 percent reductions, ahead of New Brunswick Theological Seminary with 26 percent.

Eduardo del Valle, associate vice president for Facilities and Campus Planning, explained how Kean University reached the goal: “Over the past several years we have replaced old systems with more energy efficient ones,” he said. “For instance, we have upgraded the mechanical system; replaced the underground piping system; installed a new central boiler furnace that runs on natural gas instead of fossil fuel; and in 1996 built the co-generation facility that burns natural gas and creates both electricity and steam at the same time – from one source. We’re not burning any fossil fuels to heat any of the campus buildings,” del Valle said. “Kean Hall is a prime example of an environmentally clean building, where we installed a geo-thermal heating-and-cooling system. On the micro scale, we have replaced the old fuel-gas vehicles; all our scooters are now electric.”

The percentages are arrived at by comparing pre-1990 energy consumption with post-2002 consumption, del Valle explained. “We calculated how much electricity we bought from PSE&G, gas from NUI, and every gallon of oil. We know how much pollution one unit of energy produces and could thereby calculate the improvement since 1990.”

Kean President Dr. Dawood Farahi applauds the result, saying, “I’m very proud of the fact that Kean is not only a leader in education standards but also achieves high marks when it comes to concern for the environment. I believe our students, faculty, staff and visitors, who have business at Kean every day, will appreciate this aspect of our focus. Reduction in greenhouse gasses is possible if institutions employ available technology and are willing to make long-term commitments toward a better environment. At Kean, we already do this.”

In recent years, New Jersey has become increasingly proactive in environmental sustainability initiatives. NJHEPS, headed by Dr. Donald Wheeler, professor of sociology and global studies at Kean, has played an instrumental role. Wheeler organized the support of all 56 New Jersey college and university presidents for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Greenhouse Gas Action Plan.

According to Wheeler, this is the first program of its kind to be implemented in the United States. “New Jersey is the first state to set universal targets for reduction of greenhouse gasses,” he said. “It is unprecedented to have all of the college presidents pledge their support to reach such a goal.”

Greenhouse-gas emissions, byproducts of industrial growth and increased automobile use, have created a potentially serious climate-disruption problem. Wheeler hopes to remedy the situation by assisting campuses to reach greenhouse-gas reduction goals. “Our ultimate goal is to educate this generation about how we can alleviate this dangerous situation by setting a good example in practice.”

NJHEPS statistics demonstrate that if no preventive strategies are implemented, greenhouse-gas emissions will continue to rise by six percent annually, and global sea levels could increase by as much as 31 inches. Achieving a goal of 3.5 percent reductions require participants to carry out various facilities modifications, such as upgrading climate control and illumination systems to meet more stringent energy-efficiency standards, increasing waste management and recycling efforts, installing fuel cells and co-generation devices, and cultivating more trees and plants.

Wheeler points out that Kean has already gone beyond meeting these basic requirements. He credits del Valle with spearheading these efforts. “Eduardo is a leader in high-performance design and construction in New Jersey higher education,” said Wheeler. “It is our hope that when students see such actions being taken for sustainability, they will follow the example.”

The New Academic Building, NABII, on Kean’s Union campus “is designed to be an environmentally friendly and sustainable building,” del Valle said. “The building will feature high-tech photovoltaic (solar-collector) panels that will convert solar power to electricity for consumption in the building. NABII will be the first higher-education building in the state of New Jersey to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. We're very proud of this achievement.”

Groundbreaking for the new Health and Wellness Center, also on the Union campus, took place on February 2. Like NABII, the center will be furnished with solar-collector panels, thus emphasizing the University's commitment to environmentally responsible architecture and construction practices.