OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

energy and sustainability

OSU Research Could Lead To Bio-fuels Processed From Algae

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University are working to find an efficient method of processing bio-diesel fuel and ethanol from one of the world’s most plentiful organisms – algae – which could lead to breakthroughs in reducing the world's dependency on petroleum.

Applying the findings to mass-produce algae and extract its oils could be five to 10 years in the future, but the advantages are worth the wait, according to Ganti Murthy, assistant professor of biological and ecological engineering at OSU.

Algae are versatile organisms that are "plant-like" but do not have a root system or leaves. Plants pull water and nutrients through their roots and release vapor through their leaves in a process called transpiration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an acre of corn transpires about 4,000 gallons of water a day. Because algae do not have such a vascular system, they use water only as a medium for growing.

"In a closed growing system,” Murthy said, “algae require 99 percent less water than any other crop.”

Another advantage to growing algae is that varieties of the organism have been found flourishing in all kinds of environments – from the Arctic to tropical areas – and in both fresh and salt water. Therefore, Murthy said, growing algae "is not a food-versus-fuel issue; algae can be grown using waste-water and in areas that cannot support agriculture."

Algae also are highly productive compared to conventional crops. For example, a productivity model estimates that 48 gallons of bio-diesel can be produced from an acre of soybeans, whereas algae could produce 819 gallons – and theoretically as much as 5,000 gallons – from a single acre.

One of algae's most remarkable qualities is that it can grow using carbon dioxide generated from fossil-fuel combustion, according to Murthy. Greenhouse gases from industry and coal-fired electrical-generating plants can be piped to algae ponds, where carbon dioxide is a necessary ingredient for growth. In fact, research has shown that algae can grow 30 percent faster than normal when fed carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion.

At the OSU Sustainable Technologies Laboratory, Murthy has built two small photobioreactors to grow microscopic algae in a closed system. They are simple, plastic cylinders that have advantages over an open-pond system in greater productivity, reduced contamination and better control of growth. It takes about three weeks for the algae—combined with light, water, carbon dioxide and mineral nutrients—to multiply and turn the water green.

The primary focus of the OSU lab is to discover efficient ways to extract the oils (also called lipids) and process them into bio-diesel fuel and ethanol, with fertilizer and animal feed as co-products. The biggest challenge, according to Murthy, is separating water from the micro algae he is testing (Chlorella and Dunaliella), which must continually be mixed with carbon dioxide and light as they grow. A combination of straining and centrifuging is the current method of extraction.

Of the more than 3,000 known strains of algae, Murthy grows both fresh water and salt water varieties. The photobioreactors hold about six gallons of water and produce about .17 pounds of algae with each batch.

"Depending on the algae growth conditions, we can usually extract 20 to 30 percent oil from it, and up to 60 percent is possible," he said.

Commercialization of algal bio-fuel and ethanol is a long way off. Yet, with many questions to answer and challenges to overcome, Murthy is undaunted. "A lot of people are working on it," he said, "It's just a matter of putting it together, making it work."

Murthy's work at OSU has been funded by a grant from the Agriculture Research Foundation.

 

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Ganti Murthy,
541-737-6291

New OSU Program Designs With Nature

CORVALLIS, Ore. – This year, students at Oregon State University are learning to design with nature through a new undergraduate program in Ecological Engineering.

Combining the tools of engineering design with an understanding of how complex natural systems interact, the new program is part of both the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Engineering.

"Agriculture is where ecological engineers can contribute in many ways to a sustainable system that integrates human values with natural structures and functions," said John Bolte, head of OSU's Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering.

Citing examples of using plants to clean water, air and soil, Bolte said ecological engineering "is a new and rapidly growing industry that needs professionals who understand agriculture, plant systems and engineering design."

The program is taking education out of the laboratory and into the field, where large-scale, interconnected systems interact in unpredictable and sometimes unruly ways. Students study river systems, wetlands, agricultural lands and other places in nature to learn how to design functioning ecological systems to meet human needs.

"There is no other institution teaching this approach, and no better place to do it than Oregon State," said Lou Licht, president and founder of Ecolotree, Inc., the nation's oldest phyto-remediation business. "For the past 17 years, we have had to train 'conventional engineers' ourselves through internships. OSU's new program of ecological engineering has the potential to provide industry, communities and government agencies with off-the-shelf, work-ready ecological engineers."

In his business, Licht, a 1978 OSU graduate in agricultural engineering, uses poplar and willow trees with other plants to accomplish the remediation required by law in places such as landfills, brown fields, chemical spills, contaminated soil and groundwater sites, and municipal and industrial wastewater treatment sites.

Bolte sees other opportunities for ecological engineers, including the burgeoning field of biofuels, which requires an understanding of processing engineering, agricultural production and ecological systems impact. He sees innovative industries emerging that will use new technologies, such as high-speed fiber optics, to probe the natural systems that humans depend on.

"Society has been very good at breaking down the individual parts of a system to understand how each part works," said Thayne Dutson, dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. "But, as Albert Einstein said, we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. We have seen the unintended consequences of looking at the parts without considering the larger whole. Global warming, endangered species, contaminated water supply are a few of the hard problems of society that will require new, integrated thinking to solve."

"This new degree sets Oregon State apart from other schools in the country," said Ron Adams, dean of the College of Engineering at OSU. "Many students study engineering because they want to solve complex problems that move the world toward a healthier, more sustainable place. This new degree is a major step in offering our engineering students another option that will impact the future in a positive way."

For more information on the OSU undergraduate program of ecological engineering, see http://bee.oregonstate.edu/undergrad/undergrad.htm.

 

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John Bolte,
541-737-6303

OSU Extension-trained Composters Perk up Ground with Coffee Grounds

EUGENE, Ore. – Every day thousands of yawning commuters, sleep-deprived college students and caffeine-addicted office workers in Lane County fuel up at coffee shops. But what happens to the dark, steaming, gritty coffee grounds that are left over from each latte, espresso and mocha?

The majority have been trucked to the Short Mountain Landfill, Lane County's only municipal solid waste disposal site. But now some of the county's aromatic grounds are ending up in area gardens, thanks to a composting program launched by the Oregon State University Extension Service in Lane County.

Since 2004, Extension-trained composters have collected almost 200 tons of grounds from 13 coffee shops and kiosks in Eugene, Springfield, Florence, Cottage Grove and Veneta, said Cindy Wise, the coordinator for Extension's Compost Specialist program in Lane County.

That's the equivalent of about 25 large dump trucks, said Dan Hurley, the landfill's waste management engineer.

Last year, the volunteer composters – known as Compost Specialists – collected 53 tons of coffee grounds, Wise said, estimating that coffee shops in Lane County produce a combined 500 tons of grounds each year.

In recognition of their work, Lane County commissioners gave Wise and the Compost Specialist program their Trashbuster Award in 2005.

The coffee ground composting program started when Compost Specialists placed 32-gallon containers at various coffee shops to collect the grounds, which they and other members of the public then used in their gardens.

The system, however, is evolving. In lieu of using 32-gallon containers, Compost Specialists are now hoping to implement a system that uses 5-gallon buckets. They're surveying more than 80 coffee shops in Eugene and Springfield to see which ones would be willing to let the public bring buckets to the shops to retrieve grounds.

"This is something anyone would be able to do at participating coffee shops. Just take a clean five-gallon bucket with a lid, leave it at the shop, and then pick it up at the shop's convenience," Wise said.

Compost Specialists will compile a list of participating shops that will include their addresses and their conditions regarding when and how frequently people must pick up the buckets. Extension in Lane County will publish the list on its Web site and in a brochure, probably in May or June, Wise said. She added that a pilot program is under way at the Starbucks at 801 E. 13th Ave. in Eugene.

Wise said coffee grounds are an excellent addition to compost piles because they add nitrogen, which bacteria need to turn organic matter into compost. She also said earth worms are attracted to the grounds and that the grounds are a safe substitute for nitrogen-rich manure.

"A lot of people don't want to use manure because of concerns about pathogens," she said.

Wise said that informal trials by Compost Specialists in Lane County found that coffee grounds helped sustain high temperatures in compost piles, thus reducing potentially dangerous pathogens as well as seeds from weeds and vegetables that were added to the piles. In the trials, when coffee grounds made up 25 percent of the volume of the compost pile, temperatures were sustained between 135 degrees and 155 degrees for at least two weeks, enough time to have killed a "significant portion" of the pathogens and seeds, she said. In contrast, the manure in the trials didn't sustain the heat as long, she said.

"We were amazed at the results we got with coffee grounds when we did the trial," she said.

Jack Hannigan, a Compost Specialist, is pleased with the results he gets from the coffee grounds he collects from the Fast Lane Coffee Company in Springfield to use on his farm in Pleasant Hill.

"I make hotbeds that run about 150 degrees,” Hannigan said. “It kills the weeds. I can get the piles hotter and break down the compost better with coffee grounds than I can with manure. It works great."

Coffee grounds also can be added directly to soil but the grounds need a few months to break down, Wise said. "We're not certain about how coffee grounds act with the soil, but anecdotally people say they do dig it into the soil," she said.

To gather more data about this, in a couple of weeks Compost Specialists in Lane County will start studying the effect that coffee grounds have on soil at test plots in and near Eugene. In each location, one part of the plot won't have coffee grounds mixed into the soil; another will, and a third will have even more.

"We'll let them sit in the soil and come back in six to eight weeks and take a soil sample and analyze for nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and how it affects the pH of soil," she said. "We need to find out how long it takes to break down and how it will affect the nutrients in the soil. Then we'll plant bush beans and see how they look."

Extension in Lane County will share the results with the public on its Web site in the fall, Wise said.

Gardening aside, one benefit of diverting coffee grounds from the landfill is that it helps cut greenhouse gas emissions, Hurley said.

"To keep organics out of the landfill is a good thing for reducing greenhouse gas emissions because organics decompose and produce methane. Methane is about 25 times as bad as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas," he said.

Sarah Grimm, the waste reduction specialist for Lane County Public Works, said she applauds the program for encouraging interactions between community residents and local businesses. She also likes that the coffee grounds are staying in their communities, meaning that fuel isn't being used to truck them from far-flung areas of the county to the landfill near Eugene.

"It's a wonderful program," she said. "As a waste reduction specialist, I can get behind something like that. Sending it to a compost pile is better than trucking it from there to here."

For information about Extension in Lane County, go to http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/.

To learn about the Compost Specialist Program, go to http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/gardens/compost.

 

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Cindy Wise,
541-747-5289

Oregon State University Undertakes Measurement of its Carbon Footprint

ORVALLIS, Ore. – How much carbon does Oregon State University cause to be released into the atmosphere each year?

For those Beavers concerned with sustainability and the environment, that’s a key question. To find the answer, the university’s Sustainability Office recently completed a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory for the 2007 fiscal year.

The inventory shows that OSU’s total emissions increased 9.4 percent since a similar survey was done in 2004, for a total of 151,287 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Purchased electricity was the single greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for more than 61 percent.

The inventory counted emissions resulting from electricity use and steam production, student and employee commuting, air travel, solid waste and several other sources. It is the most comprehensive emissions tally OSU has ever undertaken, according to Greg Smith, one of two authors of the inventory report and program assistant in the Sustainability Office.

Measurement of carbon emissions helps to understand the impact that the university’s actions are having on greenhouse gas buildup and thus OSU’s contribution to global warming. OSU is among a small group of colleges and universities around the nation that have undertaken a comprehensive inventory – fewer than 40 at last count.

But with some 558 campuses now having pledged to work toward carbon neutrality as part of a national compact on sustainability -- the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, signed by OSU President Ed Ray last year -- many more carbon assessments are expected to follow. OSU sustainability leaders say the university is taking its leadership role seriously.

“The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is fine-tuning greenhouse gas reporting rules that will likely take effect in 2009,” said Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s Sustainability Coordinator. “This inventory meets and exceeds the reporting requirements DEQ is currently considering.”

In spring 2007, OSU students voted to approve an $8.50 per student, per term green energy fee following an Associated Students of OSU campaign. Funds raised by the fee purchase renewable energy -- primarily wind, biogas and biomass. The current amount of renewable energy purchased equals about 75 percent of total campus electrical consumption.

Largely on the basis of the green energy fee, OSU was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year as one of the nation’s top five higher education users of “green power,” as well as best in the Pac 10.

OSU’s carbon footprint ought to decrease sharply this year because the 2008 inventory will reflect the impact of the green energy fee for the first time, said Trelstad.

Conservation, said Trelstad, is the primary strategy OSU administration is taking to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. “Through conservation, we not only use financial and natural resources better, we also lower how much offsite renewable energy we need to purchase to ultimately become climate neutral.”

The Sustainability Office will inventory OSU’s emissions annually.

About Sustainability at OSU: Oregon State University is a campus leader in sustainability through initiatives ranging from its Student Sustainability Center to an electronic carpool system to internationally recognized research in development of green power sources, such as wave energy. Learn more at http://oregonstate.edu/sustainability/.

 

 

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Brandon Trelstad,
541-737-3307

Newport seminar promotes local self-reliance

NEWPORT, Ore. – A five-hour seminar that promotes local self-reliance while discussing energy and the economy will be held Thursday, May 28, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Newport Recreation Center.

The workshop is the third offered by the Oregon State University Extension office in Lincoln County and the Oregon Coast Community College Small Business Development Center. Cost of the seminar is $10 without lunch or $20 with lunch.

Discussion will be on solar energy, wave energy, bio-diesel, buying local, efficient recycling, virtual farmers markets, using wood/or wood pellets for energy, and growing your own food, according to Sam Angima, chair of the Lincoln County Extension office. A video on using small wind turbines for local energy production will be shown during the lunch break.

"People have called our office asking what they can do to start local efforts to use alternative energy and become more self-reliant in their own communities," Angima said. "We realized local issues can be solved best by local people, and we've invited community professionals and college faculty to discuss past, present and future methods."

Registration is required and can be accessed online at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lincoln/agriculture/self-local-reliance, or locally at the OSU Extension Office at 29 S.E. 2nd St., in Newport, or by calling 541-574-6534.

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Sam Angima, 541-574-6534

Nissan electric car on display at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The type of advanced technology that is moving electric automobiles from a curiosity to a working reality will be on display Wednesday, April 8, at Oregon State University.

OSU is hosting a visit by the Renault-Nissan Alliance of its new “zero emission vehicle,” a full-size, all-electric car powered by a lithium-ion battery that can go 100 miles on a single charge and will cost less for fuel than gasoline-powered vehicles.

It’s expected to be marketed in the United States by 2010, and will be available for a sneak preview from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the northwest corner of the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus. Other student-built solar cars will also be on display. The event is free and open to the public.

Nissan representatives will be available to answer questions and explain the features of their company’s new automobile and its capabilities, such as quick charging and low maintenance costs.

OSU already has a working relationship with Nissan, as part of Oregon Gov. Kulongoski’s initiative to develop a charging network for electric vehicles and move the state toward a greater commitment to green transportation.

“Electric vehicles are clearly going to be important in the future of American automotive transportation, and OSU will be both a research and educational leader in creating that future,” said Ron Adams, dean of the OSU College of Engineering. “We’re already heavily committed to various research projects in this area, we have world-class testing facilities to help create optimal technologies, and we will train the engineers and other experts who will make this happen.”

OSU has engineering programs in disciplines related to transportation vehicles and systems, and a range of multi-million dollar research initiatives on alternative transportation. Some relate to battery-powered vehicles, and others to electric cars that could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The two primary obstacles to making hydrogen fuel cell cars more practical are the cost of hydrogen and new technologies needed to store it, and OSU is working in both arenas.

The university is also a leader in new and innovative forms of nuclear power, which could provide the electricity needed for battery-powered electric cars. And one type of “super hot” nuclear reactor now being studied at OSU has the potential to directly separate water into its hydrogen and oxygen components, which could provide low-cost hydrogen to power automobile fuel cells.

Smaller electric and hybrid electric vehicles are already in heavy use at the OSU Motor Pool, and are the most requested vehicles in the fleet. Use of high mileage, hybrid vehicles has been a major cost saver for the university, officials say.

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Ron Adams,
541-737-7722

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OSU seeks comments on sustainable agriculture

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is seeking comments on a statewide study of sustainable agriculture in order to gauge potential for establishing a new program to help the agriculture and food business communities meet sustainability standards.

The study is part of a statewide conversation about sustainable agriculture in Oregon. It compiles comments from groups of people across the state who were asked how OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences can provide the agriculture and food industries with research and information about sustainability and certification standards in the marketplace.

The focus groups included growers, food processors and retailers, food service industries and non-governmental organizations across the state.

The OSU Extension Service has posted the report online and created a space on the website to allow Oregonians to comment on and continue this conversation about sustainable agriculture. The report is available at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/blogs/sustainable_agriculture/report/.

Movement to develop a clearinghouse for information about sustainable agriculture began in 2002, when member-grower representatives of NORPAC Foods, Inc., sought to develop agricultural stewardship and sustainability guidelines.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski directed the Oregon Solutions Network to help establish a single, comprehensive source for a full range of resources related to sustainable agriculture. In 2006, 26 organizations signed a Declaration of Cooperation to establish the Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Resource Center. In discussions regarding the center’s location and funding, criticisms arose that the agricultural community had not been involved more broadly.

In response, the OSU Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Extension Program offered to conduct a series of focus groups to engage a larger representation of agriculture.

Several themes emerged from the focus group conversations. Among them:
• Oregon has an opportunity to be a sustainable agriculture leader;
• Sustainable agriculture is a consumer-driven trend;
• Lack of certification standards creates risks;
• The term “sustainable agriculture” is confusing;
• There are multiple needs for information, education and research on this topic.

The public is invited to comment on the study and its findings. OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences is monitoring the conversations on the website but is not moderating the discussion.

Source: 

Bill Braunworth,
541-737-1317

Oregon State University Celebrates Earth Week

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is celebrating Earth Week beginning Saturday, April 18, with a community-wide EarthFaire on the Corvallis waterfront, the annual Procession of the Species Parade through downtown Corvallis, and a climate policy town hall meeting at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

On Saturday, cities across the nation will be partaking in town hall type forums organized by local Focus the Nation teams to engage people from Congressional representatives, to elected city officials, as well as community members in amplifying a discussion on America’s transition to a green economy. From 3 to 7 p.m. at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, key panelists will first talk about what they are working on now with regards to a green economy. Then they will talk about what they need to help create the green economy. An informational session will be provided to what kind of legislation is moving forward in Salem.

The panel discussion will be followed by a round table discussion, which will address how Corvallis citizens, university and city administrators, and government officials can connect their resources and engage each other to work out what the green economy would look like.

The events continue through April 24, with most of the activities taking place on or near campus, including the annual Community Fair April 21, which features information on 50 different campus and community groups focusing on sustainability, the environment and related topics.

“Around the world, people are realizing we have to really take the environment seriously and our impact seriously,” said Michaela Hammer, OSU Student Sustainability Initiative visibility coordinator. “Earth Week is becoming less of a special event and more about showcasing what we can do all year round.”

One popular Earth Week event is the annual Earth Day Hoo Haa, an afternoon celebration on April 22 at a student-run organic farm on the outskirts of Corvallis. Featuring speakers, live music, family-oriented events and the opportunity to get your hands dirty, it draws folks of all ages.

Other highlights of Earth Week include a Living Hat contest April 20, where participants show off their haberdashery skills as well as their green thumbs when they craft a hat out of living materials. The brand new OSU Bike Co-op is playing host to a bike race and open house April 23 to share the organization’s mission, which includes providing a place for students to learn how to work on their bikes and take free classes on bike maintenance.

And the newly formed OSU Permaculture Club will teach participants how to start seeds and make seedballs during an event at the Student Sustainability Center on April 22.

The following is a calendar of events, which also can be accessed at http://recycle.oregonstate.edu/EarthDay/eventCalendar.cfm:

Saturday, April 18
• 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.: EarthFaire, First and Monroe Avenue. Exhibitors, music, crafts and more.
• Noon - 1 p.m.: Procession of the Species, First and Jackson Street. Join the parade dressed as any species.
• 3-7 p.m.: Focus the Nation Town Hall, Corvallis-Benton Public Library. Ask legislators about climate policy.

Sunday, April 19
• 9 a.m.-noon: Naturalist adventure, Avery Park Rose Garden. Explore nature at this local park.

Monday, April 20
• 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Sorting it Out: Trash audits in MU quad. Help rescue recylables from the landfill.
• 12:30-1:30 p.m.: Alternative Transportation Panel, MU 211. Options for ridesharing, mass transit, biking and more.
• All day: Living Hat Contest. Make a hat out of living materials to promote Earth Week.

Tuesday, April 21
• 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Annual Community Fair, MU Quad. Interactive informational fair with 50 different groups.
• 7-9 p.m.: Climate Crisis 101, Student Sustainability Center, 738 S.W. 15th St. Overview of the climate crisis.
• 7-9 p.m.: Call & Response Movie Showing, Club Escape, OSU. Documentary to end human trafficking.

Wednesday, April 22
• Noon - 3 p.m.: Potting and Seed Balling, Student Sustainability Center. Start seeds and make seed balls to take home.
• 3-7 p.m.: Earth Day Hoo Haa!, Organic Growers Farm, 1 mile east of Corvallis, Hwy. 34. Organic food, music, plantings and more.
• 3:30-4:30 p.m.: GECO Climate Change Speaker Series, Burt 193. Karen Shell speaks about her climate research.
• 7-9 p.m.: Blue Vinyl Movie Showing, 1001 Kelley Engineering. Documentary on PVC’s environmental effects.
• 7-9 p.m.: The Call Lecture, Milam Auditorium. Speakers discuss human trafficking.

Thursday, April 23
• 3-5 p.m.: Simple Sustainability, OSU Women’s Center. Learn how to reduce your environmental impact.
• 5 p.m.: Get to Know Your Local Bicycle Co-op, MU Quad. 5:30-9 p.m., Student Sustainability Center. Bike race and open house to learn about the co-op.

Friday, April 24
• 3-4:30 p.m.: Synthetic Sea, Synthetic Me: Plastics in the Ocean, Strand Ag Hall. Speakers discuss plastic’s effects on the marine environment.
• 7-9:30 p.m.: SSI Earth Week Party, Student Sustainability Center. Food, games and entertainment.
• 7-8 p.m.: Flames for Change Vigil, MU steps. Candlelight vigil and rally against human trafficking.

OSU Earth Week is sponsored by Campus Recycling, Student Sustainability Initiative and ASOSU Environmental Affairs, as well as Corvallis Public Works and First Alternative Co-op.

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Grand opening of Kearney Hall planned at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A public grand opening will be held on Friday, May 15, of Kearney Hall at Oregon State University – recognizing the successful $12 million renovation of Apperson Hall, a structure built in 1898 that has retained its historic exterior appearance while being transformed into a bright, energy-efficient and modern classroom, laboratory and research facility.

The grey stone façade of the building is one of the most recognizable structures on the OSU campus, and for more than a century has helped educate generations of engineers. It’s now complemented by a completely new interior, a central light court, 106-seat auditorium, and state of the art classrooms, as well as exposed ceilings and “windows” into walls that will provide students with real-world examples of structural, mechanical and electrical features.

The major renovation was made possible, in part, by more than $4 million in support from Lee and Connie Kearney of Vancouver, Wash., and the building has been renamed in their honor. Lee Kearney, a former director and division manager of Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co., earned his degree in civil engineering from OSU in 1963, and Connie Kearney began higher education at OSU before earning undergraduate and law degrees at other institutions.

Tours of Kearney Hall will be available from 1-4 p.m. as part of the Engineering Expo being held the same day on the OSU campus.

The grand opening, which is free and open to the public, will be from 4:30 to 5 p.m. in front of Kearney Hall, at the intersection of 14th and Monroe streets in Corvallis. College officials and other speakers, including Lee and Connie Kearney and Oregon Sen. Frank Morse, will discuss the legacy of the building, its significance to the College of Engineering and the Oregon economy, the new features and other topics.

“This structure has touched the lives of literally thousands of engineers across the nation and the world, generations of young students who took classes within its walls,” said Ron Adams, dean of the college. “It’s a handsome building that badly needed renovation on the interior, but we’ve been able to retain its historic exterior that adds such beauty and grace, and serves as the ‘front door’ to one corner of our campus.

“That was made possible by the vision of Lee and Connie Kearney, and more than 800 alumni and other friends of the university who donated to the project,” Adams said. “It’s a wonderful way to honor the history of the College of Engineering, even as we continue our efforts to grow, expand and make the college one of the nation’s premier programs in engineering education and research.”

Today, Kearney Hall houses the civil and construction engineering programs of the university, which are emerging as national leaders in “green” and sustainable engineering practices. Consistent with that, Kearney Hall was renovated with approaches that expect to earn it silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Kearney Hall, with its highly visible green components, is proving to be a tremendous learning environment for our students,” said Scott Ashford, head of OSU’s School of Civil and Construction Engineering. “You just can’t beat having the students see first hand what we discuss in the classroom.”

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Ron Adams,
541-737-7722

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EPA Recognizes OSU as Pac-10 Leader in Purchasing “Green” Power

CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the second year in a row, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Oregon State University for its purchase of green power, singling out OSU as the leading institution in the Pacific-10 Conference for its sustainability efforts.

The EPA announced this week that OSU led all Pac-10 institutions by purchasing nearly 67 million kilowatt-hours of green power. The purchase of that much green energy is equivalent to reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of nearly 8,800 passenger cars annually, the agency pointed out.

EPA’s recognition of the achievement is part of the agency’s EPA Green Power Partnership, which since 2006 has recognized collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power purchases in the nation. The Individual Conference Champion Award, which OSU is receiving for 2008-09, recognizes the school with the highest green power purchase.

Green power is generated from renewable sources and is considered cleaner than conventional sources of electricity because it has lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s sustainability coordinator, said Oregon State’s ability to purchase green power is a result of a commitment to sustainability by students at the school. In 2007, OSU students overwhelmingly voted to assess themselves a fee of up to $8.50 per student each term to pay for green energy. The proposal passed by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent, making OSU one of the first universities in the country to adopt such a measure.

“It has made a significant difference,” Trelstad said. “Those funds have boosted our ability to purchase renewable energy certificates from off-site sources, including wind energy, biogas and biomass.”

This is the latest in a series of sustainability initiatives that has brought national attention to OSU.

In 2008, the EPA named OSU one of 25 organizations to earn its Green Power Leadership Award, and the Kaplan College Guide listed the university as one of the nation’s top 25 “green colleges.” Also in 2008, Country Home magazine named Corvallis the greenest city in America in a listing of more than 350 cities – primarily because of its association with OSU.

Earlier this year, OSU became one of the first universities in the country to tap the kinetic energy generated by students working out on cardio machines and turning it into a form of renewable energy. OSU retrofitted 22 elliptical exercise machines in its student fee-funded Dixon Recreation Center and is collecting the power produced by students and feeding it back into the power grid.

“The amount of power generated isn’t overwhelming,” Trelstad said, “but it really helps students think about issues relating to energy production and consumption and encourages their activity in other areas. OSU students are quite energy-conscious – and becoming more so every day.”

Last month, the university finished its annual greenhouse gas inventory and reported a 30 percent reduction in net emissions during the past year – another direct result of student-supported green power purchases.

The university’s ability to use renewable power should get a boost later this year when the new $55 million energy center becomes fully operational, replacing a decades-old steam heating plant. The new center will be capable of burning renewable fuels – like methane and diesel – in the future, allowing OSU to produce about half of its electricity through co-generation.

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Brandon Trelstad,
541-737-3307