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20-Year Analysis of Lake Source Cooling


For the senior capstone seminar course required for students graduating from the Environment & Sustainability program in 2020, undergraduate student teams were tasked with assessing how the Lake Source Cooling plant had performed in terms of four key areas: economic value, greenhouse gas emissions, water & lake impacts, and community perception. 

Students were split into four teams, and created a final report published as a website to share their results. LSC is a unique experiment in alternative methods of climate control for a large facility, taking advantage of its proximity to the depths of Cayuga Lake.  The course was able to provide a data analysis that was useful to campus Facilities and Utilities staff to understand whether the plant and project had met its intended goals.

The goal of the website and final project were: 

  • To provide background information on the history, engineering, and science behind Cornell’s Lake Source Cooling plant.

  • To present the results of our classes’ 2021 evaluation of the past 20 years of Lake Source Cooling at Cornell in terms of greenhouse gas and energy savings, impacts to Cayuga Lake, and economic benefit.

  • Provide a database of raw data collected on the LSC to be used by classes, specifically at Ithaca High School.

  • Provide a resource for Ithaca community residents to engage with Lake Source Cooling.

Teams focused on energy/greenhouse-gas savings, economic return on investment, lake impacts, and outreach to the Ithaca community, working closely with the Campus Sustainability Office and Cornell engineers and facilities management team for the Lake Source Cooling project to analyze their 20 years of data in order to complete the assessments and resulting report of recommendations provided to Cornell Facilities Management. This class also worked with Ithaca High School teachers and students to design educational materials for their students, including newspaper articles, website information, and a future kiosk to be located at IHS.

To review their findings, visit:

Lake Source Cooling Project Website

Institutional Outcomes