Donnetta McClellan | January 17, 2018
A key component of the University’s Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy includes reducing its carbon dioxide emissions in part through increasing its use of renewable and recoverable energy sources. A new energy plant, located in the small wooded area northeast of campus, will help do that.
The East Plant will house mechanical equipment for the new geothermal well fields located beneath the Ricci Fields; two 2,000-ton electric-driven chillers; and a thermal energy storage tank with the capacity to store 2 million gallons of chilled water.
“This new facility will provide capacity to support campus energy growth using efficient and renewable energy strategies,” says Paul Kempf, senior director of utilities and maintenance. “Supporting the campus’s largest geothermal project to date as well as utilizing efficient electricity produced at the power plant, this facility will provide both chilled water for cooling and hot water for heating,”
At a capacity of 1,350 tons, the East Plant’s five geothermal heat-recovery chillers will provide both heating and cooling. The chilled water produced will be a source for the campus distribution system, while the hot water will be piped to nearby buildings to provide an efficient and greener approach to heating. Dunne, Flaherty and McCourtney halls have all been designed and built to use hot water heating, as will other buildings yet to be built in that area of campus.
Rather than having more chillers working during the peak daytime hours, a thermal energy storage tank will be used by the two chillers in the East Plant to produce and store chilled water during off-peak hours when demand is lower. In turn, this stored thermal energy can then be used during the day, making the system more efficient and cost-effective.