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      Point of Pride

      New Chemistry Hoods will Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

      students in lab

      Ductless Hoods

      Juniors Connelly Richards, left, and Taylor Horvat use the new ductless hoods in a chemistry laboratory in Kirkbride Hall.

      Sustainability is a key part of life at Widener. That's why the university is undertaking a project to replace the hoods in the Kirkbride Hall chemistry laboratories with ones that are better for the environment.

      Fifty hoods – which protect students who are working with flammable and toxic chemicals in the laboratories – will be replaced by May, reducing the building's electrical consumption an estimated 1.4 million kWh per year for a cost savings of $58,000.

      "We wanted to make an environmentally conscious choice to cut down on carbon dioxide production and pollutants in the air," said Loyd Bastin, chair of chemistry. "Once the project is completed, we will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 972,000 lbs. per year."

      Widener has long been committed to incorporating sustainability into the curricula, research, outreach and business practices. Many buildings on campus feature environmentally friendly technology, such as geothermal exchange in Kirkbride and other halls.

      "We see it as our civic duty to lead environmental efforts on campus and improve energy efficiencies," said Carl Pierce, executive director of operations. "By replacing the chemistry hoods, we are not only supporting sustainability, but are also increasing environmental awareness among students."

      The Widener science faculty have also led the way in research in the fields of sustainability and green chemistry. In 2014, Widener became the first Pennsylvania institution to sign the Green Chemistry Commitment.

      As an extension of that commitment, as well as a cost saving measure, the university replaced eight of the 50 fume hoods with ductless, or recirculating hoods. The remaining chemistry hoods will be replaced over the breaks in December and May.

      Fume hoods use a duct system to remove air filled with potentially volatile chemicals. The chemicals are then released into the air outside the building at concentrations that are no longer harmful. Rather than removing the chemicals from the building, the new hoods capture the chemicals in filters that can be changed and disposed of.

      "The new hoods are advantageous for the environment in two ways," Bastin said. "First, you are not reheating or cooling the air, which is a huge energy savings. Second, the chemicals are no longer being released into the air as air pollution."

      Bastin hopes that other departments will follow chemistry's lead in the future by replacing the fume hoods. It's just another way Widener can remain committed to sustainability, he said.

      Learn more about Widener's Green Pride sustainability initiative and chemistry program.


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