Electricity generation is the dominant industrial source of air emissions in the United States today. Electricity is generated largely by using carbon-based fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas). Fossil fuel-fired power plants are responsible for 67% of the nation's sulfur dioxide emissions, 23% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and 40% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions (Source: EPA). These emissions can lead to smog, acid rain, respirable particulates, and haze, and contribute to the risk of climate change. It must also be considered that any type of fuel (including nuclear) must be mined, processed, transported, stored onsite and/or piped in before it is used to generate electricity in a central power plant. Each step of the process consumes fuel and impacts the environment.
Clearly, we rely upon the availability of uninterrupted electrical power. Sustainability efforts have focused on increased energy efficiency of electrical equipment, alternative sources of electricity wherever feasible, and incorporating sustainable energy-usage features into new construction.
At Lehman College, we are replacing all incandescent lighting with fluorescent lighting, which uses 25% of the electricity used by incandescent. Existing window air conditioning units and other electrical equipment is being replaced with Energy Star rated equipment. Many spaces have been equipped with occupancy sensors that activate lighting. Most laboratory fume hoods are user-activated and turned off when not in use. All chillers in the central plant have been replaced with higher-efficiency chillers.
Longer-term Energy Sustainability plans at Lehman College include installing solar thermal panels on the APEX building to heat the water in the pool. The College will also replace the central heating and cooling power plant.
The first phase of College's New Science Facility, Science Hall, has a number of energy-related sustainability features. Please see the webpage for Lehman College’s new science building, Science Hall.