New heating system beneficial to efficiency of campus energy

Nicole Capozziello

Over spring break, a new heating system was installed in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house in place of its previous use of steam.
This change, led by Lawrence’s Energy/Facilities Engineer Dan Meyer, is the first of hopefully many projects to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of energy used on campus.
While the individual houses north of College Avenue are already heated by their own boiler systems, most of the heat on campus is provided by a steam line that is centered at Physical Plant.
This stream line stretches from Physical Plant, near Colman Hall, to the opposite end of campus. By the time it reaches most parts of campus, the energy achieves only 75 percent efficiency.
At the farthest reaches, near Trever Hall, efficiency drops to 60 percent due to leaks in the pipes and the overall distance of transporting.
Eleven buildings east of Lawe Street, excluding the Phi Delt House, currently depend on this steam line for building and water heat.
The gas boiler installed in the Phi Delt house, like the ones in residences north of College Avenue, is 90 to 92 percent efficient.
The temperature will also be more consistent as the gas boiler resets based on outside temperature and also doesn’t heat water beyond what it is needed.
The new system was scheduled for installation March 23, toward the end of spring break. The hot water heating portion of the system was installed and properly functioning on time. The heating system for the building itself, however, was not as simple of a process.
Upon instillation, Physical Plant realized that the there were problems with the return lines under the floor of the Phi Delt house.
During planning of the project, Meyer knew that the fraternity houses in the quad held the potential to be the most problematic.
Not only is it difficult to access pipes through the concrete structure but there are also no building plans that show the locations of these pipes.
After having someone locate the return lines, Meyer and his crew cut into the floor to examine the problem. They discovered that the buried lines had deteriorated and immediately began to reroute them above ground.
Because of this complication, the project was not completed on time and residents of the house were unable to fully use the kitchen or lower level common area until late March 28.
Due to the warm weather, residents did not have to be relocated.
Physical Plant confirmed the suspicion that the piping under the Quad was wasting considerable energy through several leaks. Despite the complications, Meyer is glad that this problem was identified and will be repaired.
“The project seemed to work well and we are definitely saving fuel in the new installation,” said Meyer, who is currently analyzing whether or not to install unit gas boilers in the other houses.
His crew and he will reach a decision in the next few weeks.
The new campus center, which will be a LEED Silver-certified green building, will hold true in this goal of heightened energy awareness and will use natural gas and hot water heat.
As the steam line runs under the Lawe Street bridge, the steam line will have to be rebuilt upon construction of the land bridge to the new campus center.
If the installation of individual gas boilers in the Quad is completed, the $170,000 it would cost to install a new steam line could be saved.
In the future, Meyer will be examining the current lighting efficiency around campus, particularly in inefficient areas such as Alexander Gym and the library.