Carleton University to get co-generation plant

Campus installation comes as part of sophomore energy master plan
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
By Michelle Ervin

Carleton University expects to fire up a new co-generation plant at its Ottawa-based campus next spring as the post-secondary institution implements its sophomore energy master plan.

The decision to install a co-generation plant stemmed from an evaluation of existing equipment for its ability to satisfy the anticipated heating and cooling needs of the projected campus build-out, said Darryl Boyce, assistant vice-president of facilities management and planning. Evaluation found that the steam-heating system was not up to the task. Its boilers were old enough to have gone through the public school system and graduated from university at least twice.

“We needed a reliable source of energy to provide the heat for the campus,” said Boyce. “And, at the same time, we realized we would benefit from lower cost electricity from the same system if we put in a co-generation plant.”

Only 60 per cent of the electricity consumed by the campus is expected to come from the grid once the installation is operational. The remainder will be generated on site. The installation, a 4.6-megawatt turbine powered by natural gas, will be accompanied by a heat recovery boiler, which will take over steam production, boosting its efficiency by a projected seven to nine per cent.

All told, Carleton University expects to generate energy savings of 17 per cent through the implementation of its updated energy master plan, which covers the years 2018 through 2021. The plan will see seven buildings undergo energy retrofits including equipment optimization and lighting upgrades. The post-secondary school is striving to further the results it achieved between 2014 and 2017 as it eyes an overall target of trimming energy use by two per cent per year on its growing campus.

Making an environmental impact

Working with Honeywell, its energy services partner, Carleton University was able to shed 2,693,988 kilowatt hours from its yearly electricity bill through the implementation of its first energy master plan, as well as 25,247 cubic metres from its yearly water bill and 19,076 cubic metres from its yearly natural gas bill. This worked out to an average energy and water savings of 16 per cent across five buildings.

Honeywell helped the post-secondary institution zero in on good candidates for retrofits based on facility conditions captured in an audit. Once Carleton University shortlisted the buildings with the most room to improve operationally, the energy services partner itemized potential projects and expected outcomes for each.

Energy savings and lower carbon dioxide emissions were important factors in determining which projects the post-secondary institution proceeded with, but they couldn’t come at the expense of occupant comfort.

“We want to reduce our impact on the environment, but we also want to improve the indoor environment for the people in the building,” said Boyce. “After all, why do we build buildings?”

In the Loeb building, for example, the cleaning of long-neglected induction units, which deliver heating and cooling, increased their efficiency and thereby lowered energy use and raised thermal comfort as measured by a reduction in too hot/too cold calls.

“While there’s a lot of discussion in regards to improving facilities, I think that Carleton University has gone a lot further than any other client that we’ve been involved with in terms of really providing that kind of direction and looking at longer term paybacks to renew the facilities, to really improve the buildings,” said Luis Rodrigues, vice president and general manager of energy and environmental solutions at Honeywell.

Sub-meters were installed in all of the buildings that underwent retrofits to monitor process loads, such as those generated by the operation of a printing centre, as Carleton University confirmed that the projects achieved the savings promised by its energy services partner.

“When we put a final program together, it lists: here’s the scope, here’s the cost, and here are the savings that are guaranteed over a period of time, which, to a publicly funded institution, is pretty important,” said Rodrigues.

A holistic planning approach

Boyce believes that everyone should have an energy master plan — and many institutions do. He said the essential steps to developing such a plan include establishing baseline building performance, identifying energy-saving, operations-improving opportunities and mapping out implementation.

In Carleton University’s case, the first of the five facilities to undergo retrofits was an administrative building. Boyce explained that it was important to pilot the program in a non-academic building in order to minimize the impact of any disruptions to the core function of the post-secondary institution.

What’s different about Carleton University’s energy master plan is the way it plugs into the post-secondary institution’s broader campus master plan for development, he said.

“You’re not looking out five years, you’re looking out 50 years down the road,” said Boyce. “Our master plan deals with that, so it gives us a much more comprehensive look at the impact of the decisions we make about the built environment on our campus.”

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