Mount Holyoke College

Carrying forward the legacy of Mary Lyon

As Mount Holyoke approaches its bicentennial in 2037, it seeks campus sustainability action reflective of a forward-thinking legacy that echoes the pioneering spirit and innovation of its founder.


Sustainability Goals


Carbon neutrality by 2037

In 2015, GreenerU worked with MassDevelopment to provide financing for a program called Mass College Green. This program delivered energy efficiency as a service with the college paying only for delivered energy savings over a five-year period with no upfront capital investment. This program enabled Mount Holyoke College to employ GreenerU to design and install a functional economizer and pay for the work through ongoing energy savings.

Steam plants such as Mount Holyoke’s have inherent limitations to their thermal efficiency. High-temperature flue gases are discharged to the atmosphere, representing wasted thermal energy. To reclaim a portion of this wasted energy, plant operators can install an “economizer” coil in the exhaust stream to transfer heat to the relatively cooler water entering the boiler, a project undertaken by Mount Holyoke in the summer of 1984. Unfortunately, the installed coil caused a build-up of pressure in the exhaust breeching. Flue gasses began to escape into the building, posing a health and safety hazard for plant operators. The economizer was torn out by Thanksgiving that year.

The economizer design had to be carefully balanced to safely bypass flue gases, yet provide enough energy recovery savings to make the project float, financially. Through four years, the economizer is outperforming the modeled energy performance and providing surplus cash savings to the College. The best part is that Mount Holyoke had no out-of-pocket expenses for design or construction and pays only for the actual energy savings, as measured by a Btu meter on the economizer coil.

This improvement was part of a suite of energy conservation measures GreenerU performed at Mount Holyoke College as part of Mass College Green. At Kendade Hall, the College’s student center, GreenerU performed a lighting retrofit. Carr Laboratory underwent fume hood and variable air volume (VAV) rebalancing. And occupancy sensors and controls were installed in the Kendall Sports and Dance Complex.

Mount Holyoke College also employed GreenerU to facilitate its sustainability strategic planning process in 2017. Initiated by Acting President Sonya Stephens, Mount Holyoke gathered a diverse group of stakeholders and employed GreenerU to facilitate a process that resulted in a series of overarching goals and strategies to advance the College’s sustainability agenda.

Mount Holyoke College

Campus Improvements

  • Boiler upgrades
    Optimizing or replacing a boiler can substantially improve energy efficiency.
  • Sustainability strategic planning
    GreenerU helps institutions and sustainability departments gain consensus on goals, strategies, and tactics, developing an actionable strategic plan with built-in accountability.
  • Lighting
    Transitioning to LED lighting is one of the most effective ways of reducing energy costs on campus.
  • Controls system upgrades
    Controls enable building managers to set limits on energy-using features in a space, such as temperature set points or occupancy sensors.
GreenerU engineered a solution to a complex problem that really improved the efficiency of our central heating plant. The engineering and project management was top notch.
Rick Bigelow, Associate Director and Chief Engineer Mount Holyoke College
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