Cogeneration & ECOline (Landfill Gas)

In 2006, UNH's combined heat and power facility - or cogeneration (COGEN) plant - went online. The primary source of heat and electricity for the five-million square foot Durham campus, COGEN retains waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and instead uses this energy to heat buildings, in turn reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions.

  • Cost savings: UNH's COGEN, including a chilled water plant, cost an estimated $28 million - all self-financed - with an anticipated payback within 20 years. These savings incorporate the avoided costs of investing in the existing plant for needed renovations.
  • Emissions savings: the installation of the COGEN plant resulted in an estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 21% in Academic Year (AY) 2006 compared to AY 2005.

Landfill Gas

In 2009, UNH began using processed landfill gas from the ECOLine project, a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses methane gas from a nearby landfill as the primary fuel for the COGEN plant.

In partnership with Waste Management of New Hampshire, Inc., UNH launched ECOLine to pipe enriched and purified gas from Waste Management’s landfill in Rochester to the Durham campus. Coming from Waste Management’s Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) facility in Rochester, NH, the landfill gas replaces commercial natural gas as the primary fuel in UNH’s cogeneration plant. Construction began in 2007 on the landfill gas processing plant in Rochester that purifies the gas and on the 12.7 mile underground pipeline that will transport the gas from the plant to the UNH Durham campus. 

The methane is the primary fuel to operate the university’s cogeneration plant, which provides electricity and heat for the main campus buildings. UNH is the first university in the country to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source. When fully operational, EcoLine will provide up to 85% of the campus energy from the landfill gas.

  • Cost savings: ECOLine cost an estimated $49 million - all internally-funded - with an anticipated payback within 10 years of the project. Both the cogeneration plant and the landfill gas projects were financed by the campus through borrowing.
  • Renewable energy credits: In 2009, UNH began to sell the renewable energy certificates (REC's) associated with ECOLine's electricity generation to help finance the capital costs of the project and to invest in additional energy efficiency projects on campus. By selling RECs, UNH demonstrates fiscal as well as environmental responsibility.
  • Emissions savings: When combined with the COGEN plant, ECOLine stabilizes energy costs, provides energy security, and demonstrates environmental responsibility. ECOLine and selling RECs are part of UNH’s aggressive climate action plan called “WildCAP”, which will outline how the university will lower its emissions to basically zero and secure its leadership position in climate protection as part of its broader sustainability commitment. Under WildCAP, UNH will cut its greenhouse gas emissions: 50% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 on the road to carbon neutrality by 2100.

Renewable Energy Procurement

In 2015, UNH partnered with Community Hydro to purchase approximately 20% of the electricity that we purchase. In 2016, we are working to put arrangements in place to ensure that 80-100% of the electricity that we purchase comes from renewable sources like small NH-based hydro facilities, solar, wind or biomass.