"Think of this place as a big tea kettle with a tube attached to the spout,"
said Heating Plant Journeyperson Ray Corbin, a 20-year veteran of the
facility. "The fire heats the water, and then the steam goes out to the
Housed in a small building behind Huntington Gymnasium, the wood-fired boiler
satisfies 75 percent of Colgate's annual heat and hot water needs through a
system of underground pipes. It burns hardwood chips made from tree waste and
tree tops from logging sites around central New York. (The other 25 percent is
produced by an oil burner.)
Installed during the oil crisis in the early 1980s, the boiler's firebox
consumes 80 tons of chips per day. It would take 5,000 gallons of oil to
produce the same amount of steam, and unlike oil, wood releases minimal sulfur
dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.
Times and perceptions have changed. "Twenty years ago, we used to get `Tree
Killers' signs put on our doors," Corbin explained. "Now we get environmental
classes wanting to tour, [because] we use a renewable energy source. Trees will