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Campus Energy Use

Since 2007, ESF has been actively making improvements to the Syracuse campus and regional properties to reduce energy use, transition to renewable energy sources, and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Energy conservation and efficiency, on-campus energy systems, green building standards, and facilities stewardship programs have been successfully implemented to meet these committments.

In 2021, ESF completed the College's first Clean Energy Master Plan in partnership with Ramboll with funding support from the NYSERDA Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Campus Challenge. The plan provides a snapshot of historical energy and GHG trends, and a roadmap for further reductions in energy use, fossil fuel dependence, utility costs, and GHGs. ESF staff, faculty, students, Ramboll, ESF leadership, the campus community, SUNY Construction Fund, National Grid, NYPA and other key stakeholders took part in the process.

Efforts to date efforts have reduced total energy use, utility costs, and GHGs by roughly 25% compared to a 2007 baseline. Explore Sustainability Goals and Progress for more information about what we hope to achieve in the future. Heating from natural gas and purchased steam remains The College's main source of GHG emissions and fossil fuel use (59.5%). This includes purchased steam and Gateway CHP steam, which primarily uses natural gas. Decarbonizing ESF's heat supply and operations will require a transition to more efficient heat distribution networks, powered by clean energy sources, and building electrification.

Chart of ESF Energy use by fuel type 2018 through 2019. 59.5% heat

The second largest portion of ESF fossil energy use GHG emissions is purchased electricity (27.5%), ESF's participation in the Large-Scale Renewable Energy (LSRE) consortium of SUNY and other NYS colleges, will secure 100% of purchased electricity from renewable sources through a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA).

In 2022, ESF began an new project in partnership with NYSERDA and NYPA to conduct energy audits and create a Clean Energy Master Plan for the regional campuses.


ESF implements a portfolio of energy conservation measures through the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which include:
Gateway Center Combined Heat and Powerplant (CHP)

The Gateway Center is a LEED Platinum building designed to produce more energy than it consumes. The combined heat and power plant, located on the bottom level of the building, provides heat and power to Gateway and several adjacent buildings. The CHP serves 60% of Syracuse campus heating needs and 20% of electrical needs. By offsetting purcashed steam, the more efficient CHP has made a substantial contribution to reducinh utility costs and GHG emission. The CHP consists of the following components:

  • 9.6 MMBtu biomass boiler

  • 9.6 MMBtu natural gas boiler

  • 2.96 MMBtu natural gas boiler

  • 3 - C65 capstone micro-turbines

  • Heat recovery steam generator (HRSG)

  • 275 kW Carrier back-pressure micro steam turbine.

Solar PV

ESF has five solar PV arrays. Roof-mounted systems on Walters Hall, Moon Library, and the Adirondack Ecological Center. A building-mounted (southern exposure) system on Baker Lab. And a ground-mounted system at the Tully Experiment Station. In total the five systems produce about 75,000 kWh of electricity each year. The Gateway Center also has a roof-mounted solar thermal system.

Marshall Hall Energy Retrofits

Marshall Hall retrofits are underway! The full-building rehab will include new energy systems and energy conservation measures. Marshall Hall's HVAC systems include highly efficient natural gas boilers, which serve high efficiency heat pumps (for heating) and a heat pump and dry cooler scenario for cooling. State of the art efficiency automation and controls are being installed to give ESF building operators more controllability to drive home energy savings. New windows are being installed along with other improvements to the building envelope to reduce energy consumption. The aim is for the building to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Energy and Building Audits

In addition to overseeing contracted energy audits for every colleg building, the Campus Energy Manager periodically conducts in-house audits and walkthroughs of facilities. These audits increase firsthand knowledge and understanding of how energy is being used within different buildings and systems. This information is used to implement projects aimed at improving efficiency and generating energy and cost savings.

Building Energy Model

Atrius (formerly Lucid Building OS) serves as the College's energy information system. It enables us to track building energy consumption, engage building occupants and to perform measurement and verification of energy conservation measures (projects). Building electricity, steam, natural gas and water consumption, as well as solar production, are continually updated on this public dashboard.

Illick Hall Heating Rennovations

This project would enable Illick Hall to use steam more efficiently produced on campus by the CHP and reduce demand for purchased seam.

Building Envelope Improvements

A building envelope is the boundary between the interior and exterior of a building. This envelope has a large impact on the energy efficiency of a building. Examples of improvements that can be made to envelopes include the following: installation of door sweeps, door seals, and window caulking.

Exterior Lighting Retrofits

The college plans to replace over 50 exterior high-pressure/low-pressure sodium bulbs with LED bulbs by the Spring of 2021. This will result 136,666 kwh's being saved each year (equivalent to taking 21 cars off of the road ).

LED Lighting Installations

ESF has already installed over 8,000 LED tubes at its Syracuse and Regional campuses. This will result in approximately $30,000 in annual utility savings and a reduction in electricity usage of 438,000 kWh/year. This is equivalent to removing 67 cars from the road each year.

Lighting Controls

The College is in the process of evaluating spaces that are good opportunities for occupancy and vacancy sensors. These lighting controls will ensure that lights are turned off when there is not a need for lighting, resulting in reduced electrical consumption.

Constant Commissioning of Energy Systems

The College has a dedicated building controls staff member that evaluates building systems and scheduling, looking for energy saving opportunities, creating tight occupancy schedules, and identifying failures. These practices help avoid unnecessary energy use and ensure that building occupant comfort needs are addressed in a timely fashion.

Preventative Maintenance

The College is working to enhance preventive maintenance programs to ensure equipment reliability and to reduce energy consumption.


Justin Heavey
Sustainability and Research Programs Manager