Laying the groundwork for a greener, net-zero emissions campus

Written by
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Denise Valenti, Office of Communications
April 22, 2021

An ambitious new building program is currently underway at Princeton University. It will add some 3 million square feet of construction, provide new housing for students, expand athletic facilities and upgrade aging buildings and infrastructure.

Importantly, the new construction will provide the University a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lay the foundation needed to achieve “net-zero” greenhouse emissions by mid-century.

An important lynchpin in the plan is the use of geo-exchange to heat campus buildings. This technique removes heat from buildings during the summer and stores it in the ground where it can be used to heat those same buildings in the winter.

Plans also call for energy efficient new buildings, building efficiency improvements, photovoltaic solar energy, electric vehicle charging stations and all-electric buses.

“In many ways the Princeton capital plan is a net-zero transition exemplar,” said Chris Greig, who co-authored a major new report on transitioning the entire United States energy infrastructure and who is the Theodora D. ’78 & William H. Walton III ’74 Senior Research Scientist at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and a lecturer in low-carbon energy transitions at the Andlinger Center. “Princeton’s investments in geo-exchange and heat pump technologies, building envelope improvements, solar panels and electric buses symbolize the actions that all U.S. institutions, companies and individuals must make in the decades ahead.”

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