The Plant is located within an historic building in the heart of the University's main campus. The building itself has an interesting history-- it once served as the campus Gymnasium in the early 20th Century complete with an indoor running track and batting cages. For the past fifty years (since 1970) the eastern section of the building has been home to the central heating plant. In 2007 the first central chiller plant was installed and in 2017 the chiller plant was expanded thus requiring major addition to the original historic building. 50-Year timeline.
A Redundant, Reliable & Resilient System
The Main Campus District Energy Plant's primary fuel source is natural gas purchased from Vermont Gas a local utility. In the rare event that the natural gas supply is interrupted on an extremely cold day-- even if just for a short while-- then #2 fuel oil is used as a backup fuel source. This gives us the flexibility to use different fuel sources for backup capacity depending on current weather or market conditions.
Electricity is needed to run the pumps, motors, lighting, controls and ancillary equipment inside the Plant. A diesel-powered generator is maintained on site in case there is a major power outage or disruption to the electrial grid. This ensures we can continue to heat and cool campus buildings without disruption.
All of the equipment inside the Plant-- including the boilers and chillers-- are used on a rotational basis. This built-in redundancy ensures continual, uninterrupted and reliable heating and cooling service for campus buildings. This gives us the flexibility to perform regular preventive maintenance on equipment without having to shut the entire system down.
District Energy Explained
Learn about district energy systems in this short IDEA video: