The cogeneration system in the mechanical room at Finger Lakes Community College.

Cogeneration Puts College on the Leading Edge of Sustainability

March 22, 2022
New system will deliver hot water and space heating across nearly 500,000 square feet of campus building while generating energy as it operates.

CANANDAIGUA, NY — Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) has served upstate New York for more than 50 years. Annual enrollment is about 6,000, and most students attend classes at the 250-acre main campus in Canandaigua, New York. FLCC Forward, the school’s strategic plan through 2023, emphasizes FLCC’s commitment to “pursue innovations and partnerships that show the greatest promise for building a culture of sustainability and continuous improvement that mirror our values of inquiry, perseverance and interconnectedness.”

The Lochinvar boilers installed more than 25 years ago on the FLCC main campus delivered state-of-the-art high efficiency in their day, but the college needed to upgrade in order to meet FLCC Forward’s ambitious energy-reduction goals. Catherine Ahern, FLCC’s director of facilities and grounds, met with Bill Coe, director of project development for EMCOR Services-Betlem and Lochinvar sales representative WMS Sales to begin a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) study to identify capital projects to improve the college’s energy efficiency. When the study was completed, Ahern and Coe began exploring options for replacing the domestic hot water system.

The Move to Cogeneration

After a visit to Lochinvar, Ahern and Coe decided to integrate the company’s Micro CHP XRGI 25 cogeneration system into the capital project to increase savings further by connecting the school’s domestic hot water system to its space-heating hot water loop. Adding the cogeneration system will allow FLCC to generate electricity on-site.

The Cogeneration system is the first commercial product released in Lochinvar’s partnership with EC POWER, Europe’s leading producer of combined heat and power plants. The partnership aims to meet the fast-growing need for cogeneration products that can reduce the environmental impact and electricity costs for commercial businesses across North America.

EMCOR Services-Betlem, the installing contractor, has a history in the upstate-NY area dating back to 1923 with the pioneering spirit of the late Gerard Betlem who founded the Betlem Heating Company. Today, Betlem offers a broad spectrum of commercial, residential and facilities services. As a part of the EMCOR network, the company combines local expertise and delivery with access to global resources.

Micro CHP and “Spark Spread”

FLCC received a $17,000 design/build incentive from New York State Energy & Gas (NYSEG), the first incentive ever given for a cogeneration project in the utility’s history. EMCOR-Betlem removed the college’s two old boilers and replaced them with two Lochinvar KNIGHT 399,000 BTU/hr high-efficiency boilers and two hot water storage tanks. The Micro CHP system was then piped in, prioritizing domestic hot water while also supplying space heating for nearly 500,000 square feet of campus buildings. The Micro CHP system uses natural gas to simultaneously create heat for hot water and electricity that can be used on the campus.

This capability is particularly important in regions of the country where there’s a wide “spark spread” –the difference between the low cost of natural gas and the high cost of local electricity. By relying on the high-efficiency KNIGHT Boilers during periods of peak demand, the system provides all the hot water required at the school. Simultaneously, it generates electricity to reduce grid dependence and lower electrical costs using the same fuel used to produce hot water.

Return on Investment

“The Micro CHP cogeneration project demonstrates FLCC’s commitment to the sustainability and energy-saving goals that are central to our FLCC Forward strategy,” says Ahern. “Adding the Micro CHP system along with the KNIGHT boilers will help FLCC achieve significant savings long-term by improving the efficiency of both space heating and domestic hot water delivery while simultaneously generating electricity on campus,” says Coe.

EMCOR Services-Betlem estimates that the school will reduce its annual electric bill by $11,074 per year by generating electricity on-site with the Micro CHP system. The system surpassed this estimation after only one year in use, saving the school almost $18,000 and removing more than 65 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Cogeneration projects typically have an ROI payback of four years or less—sometimes significantly less if the business is located in an area with a high spark spread.


●     XRGI 25 Combined Heat and Power system

●      Two 399,000 BTU/hr KNIGHT high-efficiency boilers

●      Two hot water storage tanks

To learn more visit www.lochinvar.com/products/micro-chp.

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