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TCNJ celebrates Earth Week by setting sights on achieving carbon neutrality

The College of New Jersey kicked off Earth Week 2024 by announcing plans to develop a comprehensive energy plan called “TCNJ 2040: The Carbon Neutral Journey.”

The plan will establish a roadmap for converting fossil fuel-consuming equipment so the campus will ultimately be served entirely by carbon-free energy sources such as renewables and nuclear power.

paul romano stands under solar array in TCNJ's parking lot
Paul Romano under a solar array in a campus parking lot.

“This roadmap will identify ways to reduce emissions associated with how we use energy on campus, said Paul Romano senior director of sustainability and energy management at TCNJ. “It will also address how we can reduce emissions attributable to the production of power, as well as energy used to travel to and from campus.”

The college will receive funding for the plan through The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Higher Education Decarbonization Pilot Program, which focuses on incentivizing a broad scope of decarbonization strategies including energy efficiency, beneficial electrification, electric vehicle chargers, storage, and combined heat and power.

The program will reimburse the college fully for the cost of developing the plan and provide incentives for any investments made based on carbon reductions.

“The funding available through this program and the opportunity to leverage those funds with federal initiatives allow colleges like TCNJ to make investments that produce financial savings immediately, while also serving the goal of preserving our environment and mitigating adverse effects attributable to increased carbon emissions,” Romano said.

“The Higher Education Decarbonization Pilot program was designed to help New Jersey’s nation-leading higher education institutions make the necessary investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Christine Guhl-Sadovy. “We’re thrilled that TCNJ is participating and look forward to working together on this project.”

TCNJ has engaged the services of Salas-O’Brien and engineering consultant team BOND, who have developed similar studies for several colleges in the region including Princeton University.

“As an early Climate Commitment signatory, TCNJ set an admirable example in the higher education community,” said Mike Walters, district energy market leader for Salas O’Brien. “Assessing a breadth of viable decarbonization strategies and scenarios in a long-term carbon neutral plan will create an actionable roadmap for the college.”

TCNJ’s carbon neutrality efforts were accelerated in 2007 when the college became one of the first institutions in New Jersey to join the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. This national consortium comprises a community of educational institutions that are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of global warming and its potential for largescale, adverse health, social, economic, and ecological effects.

Since then, the college has taken numerous steps to reduce its carbon footprint including being among the first higher education institutions in the state to install photovoltaics, electric vehicle charging stations, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and fuel cells on campus.

Other projects presently under development through the college’s partnerships with PSE&G include energy efficiency and electric vehicle charging programs. A financially rigorous energy audit of all facilities on campus is expected to identify areas for both energy savings and cost savings, and the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations will include network access and Level II and III public charging. Nationwide, the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We applaud TCNJ for its drive towards decarbonizing its energy systems, and we’re pleased to continue our long-established partnership as TCNJ pursues this path,” said John Latka, PSE&G senior vice president of transmission and distribution. “Our aim is to be a positive force in a changing world by providing access to safe, affordable, reliable and cleaner energy. PSE&G helps institutions like TCNJ as they look for ways to strengthen and modernize their energy systems, increase reliability and resiliency in their community, while also identifying important means to save energy and money along the way.”

For more information about TCNJ’s sustainability efforts, please visit the TCNJ Department of Sustainability and Energy website.

— Luke Sacks


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