In an endeavor to move to a more environmentally friendly heating and cooling system, a geothermal system using state-of-the-art chillers/heaters is being constructed to support the campus demand for heating and cooling while allowing the University to achieve energy savings and accomplish a reduction in deferred maintenance backlog.
Constructed in 1945, the Power Plant for the University currently provides steam generated heat using three coal/woodchip fueled boilers to various facilities throughout campus. The newest boiler installed in 1981 is a vintage coal and woodchip fueled boiler. The two remaining boilers are older coal fired stoker units that are inefficient and have limited pollution controls.
In 2010, University personnel along with the consulting team of CM Engineering and McClure Engineering began a study to replace the current steam infrastructure with a ground source heating system and to determine the impact it would have on the campus infrastructure. The study assessed placement for a piping loop and well fields along with current building system condition and makeup for such a change. After completion, the study suggested that a geothermal system could replace the aging steam plant, which currently serves 65 percent of the campus square footage, as the primary heating source on campus and provide significant energy savings. The geothermal system would be a ground source heat pump system which requires a balanced heating and cooling demand for long term stable operation. Since the campus is cooling dominant, the geothermal system will be designed to meet the heating load. The existing chilled water system would be improved to provide a supplemental cooling source to complement the geothermal system. This will allow the University to achieve energy savings and accomplish a reduction in deferred maintenance costs.