Utilities & Energy Services owns and operates the first 18 cylinder lean-burn natural gas reciprocating engine in North America, providing on-site electrical generation and refrigerated chilled water, offsetting a portion of the campus’ peak load. On-site power generation currently serves a portion of the main campus electricity with the remaining demand supplied by our utility partner Duke Energy. Duke Energy’s distribution power grid is supplied to the main campus by two 69,000 volt substations. The ability to self-generate electrical power provides both significant cost and environmental benefits to the university.
Since 2009, chilled water production has been increasing capacity at the main campus central energy plants. The four utility plants, combined with the CHP’s absorption chiller on campus, produce and deliver over 37,000,000 ton-hours of cooling annually to campus facilities. The use of centrally located plants benefits UCF by reducing building energy consumption and eliminating less efficient stand-alone cooling at each of the campus buildings. Currently, a majority of our main campus square footage is served by the district cooling loop. The remaining square footage is supported by stand-alone chilled water systems, direct expansion, and ground source heat pumps.
Through capital renewal, UES has also focused on a phase out and reduction of stratospheric ozone depleting refrigerants with our centralized district cooling plants. We no longer use any chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) based refrigerants in our central energy plants. CFC’s contribute to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, which is linked to many human health problems.
The thermal energy storage tank (TES) was brought online in October 2010. The TES reduces energy use by taking advantage of cooler ambient conditions at nighttime and running chillers at their optimum conditions. By shifting 2 MW of load from peak to off peak, this energy project reduces approximately 40% of the peak demand for cooling, contributing an average of $320,000 savings annually.
District Energy Plant IV engages UCF’s core mission of education and research through the creative ingenuity to use the grounds as a teaching tool. Each pipe jacket insulation is color-coded to garner a better understanding of the evaporative cooling process. With close proximity to the College of Engineering, DEP IV’s technologies can be integrated into engineering and science courses, senior design projects, and even involve the multidisciplinary Faculty Clusters with actual real-time data.
Natural gas is supplied to the University at various points through the local distribution contractor, TECO People’s Gas. Natural gas feeds campus boilers for domestic hot water heating, building heating and dehumidification, and is the fuel source for CHP plant.
Natural gas produces up to 65% fewer emissions than coal per kWh and 25% fewer emissions than oil. Since natural gas is de-regulated in the state of Florida, UES has been able to procure natural gas on the open market, providing opportunity to leverage and reduce cost through hedging and negotiated contracts.
Water & Wastewater
UES controls and maintains an extensive 800,000 gallons a day in water production, transmission, storage, and distribution system that supplies the majority of all domestic water to the main campus. The production wells are located within the main campus and have redundant connection to the local municipality for emergent purposes. The monumental 200,000 gallon elevated water tower icon and an adjacent 100,000 gallon ground water storage tank provide all of the domestic water storage.
UCF will continue to adhere to industry best practices to maintain and conserve our precious water resources. Our objective is to maximize water efficiency within buildings and reduce the burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems. Significant contributions to water use reduction has been provided by removing all irrigation from potable water supply and supplied by reclaimed water, as well as mandating that our new construction facilities will use 40% less water than the baseline building.
The domestic water system serving UCF is held to the same rigorous testing standards required of all municipal water systems under Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Sanitary sewer transportation systems are operated and maintained by UES to serve the entire main campus and research park. Effluent is transferred to the local municipality through several lift stations under a long-term capacity agreement.
Water Conservation Efforts
In consideration of potable water supply needed for drinking and washing, and the excess capacity for reclaim water, led to the exploration of sustainable alternatives. After the successful transition to 100% reclaimed water for the campus irrigation system, UES analyzed additional opportunities for reclaimed water use in its on-campus cooling towers. Utilizing reclaimed water as an alternative to potable water for its chilled water source would not only reduce the system’s total water usage, but also result in significant savings in operational expenditures. The reclaim water has shown to meet the same needs as the potable would have for cooling needs, but surpassed in cycles of concentration, allowing the water to be used for a longer period of time before being deemed no longer usable.
UCF’s LEED requirements also emphasize water conservation through its Water Efficiency credits, via low-flow lavatories and water closets, and use reclaim water for flushing when appropriate.