At Graduation, U. of New Hampshire Applauds Landfill Gas

When it was his turn to address graduates and their families at commencement on Saturday, the University of New Hampshire’s president took advantage of the moment to make a claim you don’t often hear at a graduation — that the entire ceremony was powered by landfill gas.

The university earlier this month completed a $49-million system that uses a network of 300 extraction wells to collect methane generated at a landfill in Rochester, N.H. The gas is then purified and transported 12.7 miles in a pipeline to the university’s cogeneration plant, which burns the gas to generate electricity and heat campus buildings. The landfill gas replaces commercial natural gas in the cogeneration facility, and the university will sell renewable-energy credits to pay for the project.

The president, Mark W. Huddleston, devoted his speech to recalling how much progress the university has made toward sustainability in the past four years, and even to reminding guests to dispose of their food waste in compost bins. “Your half-eaten cookie,” he said, “may help grow the food we serve in the dining hall next fall.”

He then called on the landfill’s manager, Al Davis — patched into the commencement sound system on a remote connection — to certify that landfill gas was indeed powering the ceremony. “You bet,” Mr. Davis said.

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