The University of Georgia Costa Rica 2014-2015 Sustainability Report UGA Costa Rica 2014 - 2015 Sustainability Report - Page 14

Resource Efficiency GOAL: Complete alternative energy generation potential and cost-benefit analysis, with recommendations for prioritized implementation by 2015. Energy production is a hotly contested environmental issue of the 21st century. UGA Costa Rica has taken several important steps towards the generation of alternative energy, mainly in the form of solar water heaters and methane production via biodigesters. In doing so, the campus has employed safe, reliable methods of producing its own energy while reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. Traditionally, propane has been used to heat water on campus, but this trend has declined recently due to the widespread installation of solar water heaters on campus. 14 University of Georgia Costa Rica The first one was installed in June 2012. Today, solar power is used to meet almost all of the campus’ hot water demands. The impacts of the solar panels have been instrumental in reducing propane consumption on campus. As seen in the graph on page 15, a trend of reduced propane consumption is evident despite increases in occupancy. The biodigesters on campus also play a major role in the reduction of campus propane consumption, replacing propane used to heat the burners in the kitchen. Burning methane gas (CH4) is not emission-free, with CO2 still released as a byproduct. However, releasing CO2 is considerably less destructive because methane, pound for pound, has 25 times the greenhouse gas potential of carbon dioxide. The biodigesters prevent methane (emitted from both livestock and campus guests) from entering the atmosphere by diverting it to burners in the kitchen. During the spring of 2013, UGA engineering student Will Grant, along with faculty member Thomas Lawrence, calculated that using the biodigester to divert methane for fuel equates