Energy Management

HVAC Systems

We strive to provide building occupants with a heating and cooling service that is efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective.

Primary functions:

  • Supply steam to buildings
  • Operate and maintain the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Operate and maintain generators
  • Purchase fuels and electricity while maintaining cost control
  • Conserve energy

Planned Outages

Steam system shutdown

There are no planned outages at this time.

Buildings affected

We're all about providing adequate heating and cooling functions, as well as a backup capability, that keep the campus running comfortably.


Steam Service

The Central Heating Plant generates and delivers steam to each main campus building for heating.

Natural gas is the primary fuel, with oil as backup. Total plant capacity is 250,000 pounds of steam per hour.

HVAC Systems Control

Most of these systems are controlled by computers. In addition to pinpointing operating problems, our goal is to balance occupant comfort with energy conservation.

HVAC requests: If you let us know what your needs are in advance, we can sometimes find a suitable and cost-effective solution—as opposed to turning on a building-wide system to satisfy a small area. See contact information panel on the right.

Campus Generators

The staff operates and maintains diesel generators that meet the requirements of UPPCO’s interruptible tariff and also provide power to the campus when the utility supply fails. Normally the campus generators will restore power to campus within two minutes of a power outage. Backup systems are in place should there be a delay in starting the generators. We recommend that critical power applications  have at least a ten minute on site power backup system as a contingency for a potential delay in starting the generators. The campus generators, installed in 2007, are capable of using biodiesel.

Cost Control

To control energy costs, we participate in utility rate cases to ensure that the University’s interests are recognized and protected during the process of determining rate structures.  Buying electricity on the interruptible tariff saves about $500,000 annually.  

In preparing budgets, the University encounters volatile natural gas pricing, so we hedge gas prices by using futures gas contracts in a four-year period.

Energy costs are minimized by careful operation of the HVAC systems. The schedules for many units are adjusted for when classes are in session, as well as for exam periods, breaks, and holidays. Some units will have as many as ten different schedules during the year to accommodate changing occupancy levels.

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation saves money and at the same time reduces our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. Many conservation projects have been implemented since 1980; they reduced costs by $10 million.

Efforts include:

  • removing more than 7,000 fluorescent lamps from overlit areas
  • using energy-saving lamps and ballasts
  • putting in lighting occupancy sensors
  • recovering heat from waste energy
  • installing computer controls on HVAC systems and employing many other retrofits.  

During the early 1980s, the University invested $1.6 million of its own funds and $1.6 million of federal grants in numerous projects to reduce energy consumption. The initial results were promising; steam consumption was reduced by 40 percent and electrical use by 17 percent. Most of these savings have evaporated as we have added new buildings; switched from an 8-to-5 operation to an almost 24/7 research university; and added thousands of computers and research equipment. Another way of looking at it: these early investments allowed us to accommodate the additional growth by using the same quantities of energy that we did in 1980.