The Caltech community can take comfort in knowing that the fuel used to generate electricity is spent wisely and is environmentally friendly.
That's what the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Partnership, a division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concluded last month when it bestowed, on behalf of the EPA and the Department of Energy, the 2004 Energy Star CHP Award to Caltech.
"Through the recovery of otherwise waste heat for campus cooling and heating, Caltech has demonstrated leadership in energy use and management," the award's announcement letter read. "Caltech's CHP system is a great example for other facilities across the nation."
Caltech's CHP system can boast an efficiency of 73 percent, which means that the system uses approximately 30 percent less fuel than equivalent separate heat and power systems.
The Institute's aging 6 megawatt CHP system was replaced in 2003 with a highly efficient, natural-gas-burning 12.5 megawatt system that not only reduces polluting emissions by 15 percent but is also able to generate up to 90 percent of the energy consumed on campus.
The new system will help the City of Pasadena avoid the dreaded rolling blackouts and brownouts California has seen in prior years.