By Alexis Schulz
The Trigen Plant, located on the Lawrenceville campus next to Gill Chapel, became operational this summer and is will soon be generating electricity to heat and cool four academic buildings: Fine Arts, Science building, Memorial Hall, and Sweigart Hall.
Mike Reca, associate vice president for facilities and auxiliary services, said the trigeneration system, nicknamed Trigen, became fully functional in August.
“It is now producing chilled water for Memorial Hall’s air conditioning, and all the heating systems were connected and will be ready in October,” said Reca.
Trigen can produce a maximum of one megawatt of electricity each day for the campus, and will be fully operational for the start of the fall semester. Hot or chilled water is pumped through a piping system to the four academic buildings: Fine Arts, Science, Memorial and Sweigart. During cold months, hot water replaces the need for boilers, and chilled water replaces the need for chillers during the air conditioning season.
“The plant is anticipated to save the university $550,000 a year in utility costs,” said Reca.
In addition to the financial savings, the building brings Rider closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Trigen uses natural gas to create electricity and no other fossil fuels are needed. Reca said the facility will produce a net efficiency power generation of approximately 66 percent. The average generator is only 25-40 percent.
“The facility is intended to save 8,999 pounds per year in nitrogen oxides, as well as 17,325 pounds per year in sulfur oxides,” said Reca.
Stephen Schwartz, senior geosciences major, sustainability minor and eco-rep, said he thinks Rider is investing in technology that will create a more sustainable energy on campus.
“The Trigen plant will really impact Rider in a positive way. Not only are we going to save a ton of money a year, we are also reducing our carbon footprint. I support the Trigen plant, and I know when more technology comes out, the Trigen will be even more efficient,” said Schwartz. “As a university, Rider can be looked upon by other institutions as an innovator in sustainability. This makes me very excited for the future of our school, and for the future of our country.”
Trigen’s total cost is $6.5 million, and the NJ Smart Start Grant funded $1 million of that amount, said Reca. He also said students would be pleased to know the building is fully insulated and will not produce any smell or noise. The facility was originally set for completion in July, but Reca said weather and delivery delays made construction difficult at times.
“Overall this plant will be an asset not only from an operational perspective, but from an environmental perspective as well,” said Reca.