Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 16, 2004
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Temple Ambler to host sustainable
energy forum

Universities and colleges are at a critical turning point in the use of energy to keep their buildings and facilities running efficiently to ensure the best educational experience for their students.

For many institutions, it is a time of rising fuel costs and a laundry list of new and ongoing maintenance projects competing with the need for expansions and renovations with smaller budgets to enact them.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, representatives from more than 40 institutions, including higher education institutions, energy-related companies and financial institutions, will gather at Temple University Ambler to seek new opportunities for — and overcome the barriers to — an important move toward sustainable energy at the Higher Education Energy and Operations Forum.

“Universities throughout the country have a backlog of maintenance and renovation projects that they are involved with. Energy efficiency often does not come to the top of the list of priorities,” said Jeffrey Featherstone, director of the Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple Ambler and chairman of the community and regional planning department. “Energy efficiency typically has higher upfront costs, even though the payback is usually quite favorable in the long run. Savings, depending on the technology, might not occur for five to 10 years. We believe that universities should be at the forefront of the energy-efficiency movement and serve as models for the commercial and institutional sectors.”

“Our goal is to get these various institutions together so that they can interact and begin working to solve today’s energy issues,” said Susan Guard, the regional team leader for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rebuild America program. “Rebuild America is a technical assistance program that focuses on energy efficiency and reusable energy in five sectors — state and local, commercial, public housing, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide additional workshops focusing on specific energy needs and interests.”

Temple Ambler, an active member of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy, has a long history of promoting environmental concepts in and out of the classroom.

• Temple Ambler purchases 200,000 kilowatt-hours of wind energy each year from Community Energy Inc.

• On Sept. 21, after the energy forum, Temple University Ambler administration and students will also gather to break ground on a new athletic building that strongly promotes alternative energy concepts. The new Intercollegiate Athletics Field House — part of a $4.5 million project, which included construction of new athletics fields at the Ambler Campus — will be located off Woods Drive near the baseball and softball fields at the Ambler Campus. The groundbreaking for the building, which will include an innovative “green roof” component, will take place at 3:30 p.m.

• With the help of a $50,000 grant from PECO Energy Co., Temple Ambler will develop the green roof structures on the new athletic facility. Green roofs are a living biological community of plants and microorganisms growing in a lightweight medium that will provide an environmentally sound alternative to a traditional roof system.

According to company president Denis O’Brien, PECO and its parent company, Exelon Corp., “support and value advancements in environmental engineering.”

“The education and research opportunities that this green roof garden will highlight are aligned with PECO’s continued commitment to our region and the environment,” O’Brien said.
Horticulture assistant professor Sinclair Adam and landscape architecture assistant professor Skip Graffam have already begun research into the types of plants that would be most viable for green roof plantings in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“It’s an opportunity for our students to observe how this technology is moving forward and will essentially act as a ‘lab’ building for us to conduct actual measurements,” Adam said.

The Higher Education Energy and Operations Forum, held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy, the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rebuild America program, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Bright Hall Lounge, at Temple Ambler, 580 Meetinghouse Road.

For more information on the Higher Education Energy and Operations Forum, call the Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple Ambler at 215-283-1286. For more information on the green roof garden project at Temple Ambler, call 215-283-1290.

-By James Duffy