Rutgers works to increase sustainability, reduce carbon footprint

Rutgers' solar panels, located on Livingston campus, supply six percent of the campus' renewable energy. In total, renewable energy makes up 30 percent of all energy use on campus. 
Photo by Photo by The Daily Targum | The Daily TargumRutgers' solar panels, located on Livingston campus, supply six percent of the campus' renewable energy. In total, renewable energy makes up 30 percent of all energy use on campus. 

Rutgers' sustainability efforts has increased in recent years, culminating in 30 percent of all campus energy currently coming from renewable resources.

Michael Kornitas, the director of Sustainability and Energy and co-chair of the University Sustainability Committee, gave an interview with The Daily Targum to talk about what is currently being done and what will be done to make the campus more sustainable.

Kornitas said he is responsible for buying the electricity and natural gas used on campus, as well as looking for ways to reduce Rutgers’ carbon footprint. The two main sources for renewable energy currently are the solar panels on Livingston campus and co-generational plants on Busch campus and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. 

Co-generational plants utilize natural gas by running jet engine-like turbines to produce heat from the production’s combustion, he said. This heat is used to heat buildings and produce high-temperature hot water. During the summer, absorption machines can also use this heat to produce air-conditioning.

The plants make up the majority of Rutgers’ renewable energy supply, as the Livingston solar panels contribute 6 percent of all renewable energy on campus, according to a presentation provided by Kornitas.

When funds are available, Kornitas said, his office will make certain buildings are LEED certified.

The certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement, according to its website. It is administered through the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit, non-governmental membership-based organization.

He said there are currently four LEED buildings at Rutgers — all of them recently built buildings such as the Sojourner Truth Apartments and the Rutgers Business School. Two buildings under construction — the Chemistry and Chemical Biology building and the Engineering building — will meet LEED certification as well.

Rutgers supports individuals who use renewable energy as well. On campus, there are currently eight electric car charging stations, he said. There is one station each on the Busch and Cook campuses, and the rest are located in the Livingston parking lots.

As co-chair of the University Sustainability Committee, Kornitas tries to get the word out about sustainability as much as he can, he said. The committee has largely focused on making its website, which provides information about what is going on at the University in the various areas of sustainability, such as initiatives, student groups, etc. Once a semester, the committee also hosts workshops to have people become more informed on sustainability.

Kornitas said people can improve sustainability in their daily lives by doing basic tasks such as turning off the lights when leaving a room, unplugging things that are not being used and lowering the heat in their rooms when they will not be there for a long period of time.

His office will continue to make the Rutgers campus more sustainable in the future, he said.

“Sustainability is built into everything we do,” Kornitas said. “As we build out, we make sure what we are building is sustainable.”