Full steam ahead to a carbon-neutral future at OSU 

Around 45 students from the SUS 103 Introduction to Climate Change class got to see OSU’s Energy Center in action on December 1, 2022, when they toured the facility with instructors Jen Valentine and Leon Nguyen. Students and faculty were updated on OSU’s efforts to combat climate change in the context of the Energy Center and its drive to produce clean, sustainable energy for campus operations. 

OSU’s Energy Center, part of Facilities Services, is a recognized leader in sustainable energy production having already made history in 2010 as the first LEED Platinum-certified power facility in the United States. Today, the Energy Center team is setting their sights on an even bigger goal – contributing to OSU’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025

Keeping the campus warm & the planet cool 

The Energy Center came online in June 2010, replacing the 90-year-old existing heat plant. The facility is based on a cogeneration model, meaning it can produce both steam-powered heat for campus buildings and enough electricity to power nearly 40% of OSU’s current needs. 

The Center heats water to 385 degrees Fahrenheit to generate the pressurized steam necessary to fuel the Corvallis campus’s heating and hot water needs. The system then recaptures 93% of that water, which returns to the facility to be reused. This minimizes waste and reduces demand on natural resources. 

Currently, the steam is heated via natural gas and waste heat from the electrical turbine. However, Energy Center leadership is planning to transition away from fossil fuels.  Les Walton, manager of energy operations, is in discussions with NW Natural, OSU’s natural gas provider, to explore incorporating hydrogen into the Energy Center’s fuel mix. Mixing hydrogen and natural gas to power the Center’s operations would likely help reduce the use of fossil fuels. 

Stay tuned for clean energy updates! 

OSU is continuing to reduce environmental impact across all operations and the Energy Center is playing a key role in those efforts. For more information about climate action at OSU, see the university’s Path to Carbon Neutrality.

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