Longwood University finds fuel
solutions close to home
Geoff Chenoweth, PE, Infrastructure and Mechanical Systems Project Engineer, RMF Engineering Inc.;
and Phil Jones, Project Coordinator, RMF Engineering Inc.
Volatile oil prices, climate change concerns, advances in technology, customer demand – all are drivers in the quest for green alternatives to fossil fuels. As district
energy systems explore the use of renewable fuel sources,
they seek alternatives that are both economically friendly and
financially feasible. Many have found their best options close
Such is the case at Longwood University in rural Farmville,
Va., in the very heart of the state. Nearly 100 years after
opening its doors in 1839, Longwood built a coal-fired central
steam plant. In the decades since, changing environmental
regulations and economics have required the university to
continually evaluate its fuel options. Increasingly, Longwood
has been making use of locally sourced wood waste (sawdust
and wood chips) as fuel.
Courtesy RMF Engineering Inc.
What began almost 30 years ago as an experiment with
burning wood waste from area lumber and logging operations
has developed into a long-term investment in sawdust as
a primary fuel. Last July, Longwood opened a new wood-burning heating plant that has decreased operational costs and
increased system reliability. Longwood’s growing commitment
to wood fuel illustrates how one resourceful campus district
energy system is meeting its goals for greater sustainability
while keeping its fuel dollars in the local economy.
Longwood University’s new steam plant, which opened in July 2010,
was built next to the campus’s original 1938 heating plant.
Looking for Options
Founded 171 years ago as the Farmville Female Seminary
Association, Longwood University is today a coeducational
public institution offering 100 majors, minors and concentra-
tions to more than 4,800 students. In 1938, the coal-fired
heating plant and steam distribution system were built to
supply the campus with steam for space heating and the
production of domestic hot water.