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March 17, 2011

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab




SRU begins $7 million baghouse construction


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University launched a long-awaited $7 million construction project this week designed to help retain the University’s standing as an environmentally friendly campus while simultaneously providing economical heat and hot water to the 660-acre campus.

           The new baghouse facility, in the making for more than three years, will be added to the campus boiler plant. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of September, said Scott Albert, director of facilities and planning, who is overseeing the massive, high-tech project.

           Albert said the new baghouse, which scrubs pollution from the air before expelling it from the University’s smokestack, will employ the latest technology.

           The project involves $5 million in actual construction costs, $1.4 million in equipment purchase costs and about $500,000 in design costs.

           The new facility will measure about 30-feet by 20-feet and will be 65-feet high, Albert said.

           Due to construction the parking lot behind Morrow Field House will be closed later this semester, Albert said. Plans call for the lot to be reopened in time for the opening of fall classes. 

           The facility will handle particle removal from the University’s three boilers that burn coal, combined with natural gas. The new facility is not necessary for the fourth boiler, which only burns natural gas.

           Coal is the lowest cost energy source, especially when considering the University heats some 65 academic classroom buildings and related facilities, and provides hot water for the entire campus, including residence halls and recreation facilities, Albert said.

           The EPA cited the University after one of its four boilers failed federal compliance testing. The failed test was due to a bad batch of coal. The test was re-run and the boiler passed. The EPA,  U.S. Justice Department and SRU agreed to adding a baghouse as part of a consent decree worked out following more than two years of discussions.

           SRU has long prided itself in its education and leadership in areas of environmental awareness. The University was among the first institutions in the nation to offer a master’s degree in sustainable systems, a student-initiated Green Fund to support student, faculty and community ideas and environmental projects, and in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

           By signing onto the ACUPCC plan, SRU showed its commitment to helping lead the region in reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases. The signing also furthered SRU acceptance of the challenge to become even more sustainable.

           In addition to academic programs in environmental studies, including geology, geography and the environment, SRU also has programs in environmental education offered through its parks and recreation department.

           The University’s annual Btu energy use per square foot of building was 187,714 in 2003-04, and was reduced to 117,044 Btus last year, even as energy costs increased from suppliers, Albert said.

            SRU has a strong recycling program. In total, the University recycles more than 300,000 tons of material that would have been sent to landfills.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.


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