SUNY-ESF Debuts Uniquely Powered Gateway Building

Sep 6, 2013

Gateway Hallway
Credit John Smith / WAER News

SUNY E-S-F is getting closer to its goal to achieving carbon neutrality by 2015.  A ribbon cutting was held Friday to officially dedicate the college’s newest building. 

The Gateway Center has a three million dollar combined heat and electric system powered by biomass and natural gas.  Executive Director of Energy and Sustainability Michael Kelleher explains the process once the wood pellets are loaded. 

"We put them into a gasifier and so, we're basically heating or burning them without much air or oxygen being around.  They give off a gas as it sort of chars the wood.  Then we add air to that gas and burns at a very high temperature 16, 17-hundred degrees."

 Kelleher adds the process has much lower emissions and provides for a much cleaner and more efficient way to burn wood.  The system will save the college about 400-thousand dollars a year.  College President Dr. Neil Murphy calls it a very unique heat-powered system.

ESF Gasifier
Credit John Smith / WAER News

 "I love to go in the bowels of this building and see those mechanical systems that actually drive it; that minimize our carbon footprint.  That maximizes energy efficiency.  That to me, I love the way the building looks and the statement it makes for us.  But what's in the basement is pretty impressive." 

The new combined heat-and-power system will supply the campus with 65 percent of its heating and 20 percent of its power.