December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Oberlin College shifting toward carbon neutrality

OBERLIN – Coal use at Oberlin College will soon be obsolete as the college shifts toward carbon neutrality.

On Monday, work will begin to replace the Central Heating Plant’s coal-fired boilers with new natural gas ones. In March, the boilers will be taken offline, making Oberlin College a coal-free institution.

The move is part of the college’s effort to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2025.

The college’s energy master plan seeks to reduce the campus’s reliance on and consumption of all fossil fuels. In addition to decommissioning the coal plant, the college plans to develop geothermal heating and cooling zones across campus that will utilize electric compressor technology.

A college spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Friday, but college officials have said that the move toward natural-gas is only temporary.

“We intend a short history for the natural-gas plant as we move fully to renewables as soon as possible,” said chemistry professor Rob Thompson, former member and chair of the Committee on Environmental Sustainability, via a news release.

The natural-gas plant will provide heating and cooling while technology improvements are made to the facilities. Afterward, it will serve as a back-up system in the event of an electrical outage and during maintenance periods and times of high need.

During the site preparation starting Monday, there may be changes in traffic patterns and parking until the project is completed in December 2014.

According to the college, a new north entrance to the Central Heating Plant/Service Building will be constructed to allow continued vehicle access, although approximately 15 parking spaces will be lost. Alternative parking will be available in the lots adjacent to Hales Gym and MercyAllenHospital.

Details about when and where construction will occur, as well as about parking, will be reported on Oberlin OnCampus as soon as they are available.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.

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