Photo Jon Reis.
Cornell’s new CHP plant opened in January 2010 at the Central Heating Plant, built in
1922. The university first installed a central steam system to serve the Ithaca campus
in the late 1880s.
supplemental boilers feeding backpressure steam turbines. Cooling
is accomplished via Cornell’s innovative lake source cooling system, which uses the deep waters of a nearby lake to cool campus
chilled water. More than 85 percent of the electricity needed for
campus is supplied by the cogeneration systems, with the balance
being taken from the electric grid via a Cornell-owned 115,000-
volt substation. These utilities are supplied by distribution networks
that cover the 900-acre campus.
Cornell’s sustainability initiatives also extend far beyond its
energy infrastructure. The university’s environmental course offer-
ings – begun in 1875 with arboretum and conservatory botany
classes – today exceed more than 150 courses related to climate
change and sustainability. In 2007, the university also established
the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future, which awards on-cam-
pus grants to groups researching topics directly applicable to carbon
Committing to Net Zero
While Cornell has long been a regional and national leader
in sustainability and matters of environmental concern, President
Skorton has pledged to do more. In 2007, he was a charter
signatory of the American College and University Presidents
Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Member institutions signing
the ACUPCC commit to pursuing climate neutrality, defined as
Courtesy University Photography.