About the Plant
The Plant generates and distributes steam and chilled water to meet the needs of the campus community for space heating; air conditioning, hot water generation and scientific research support. The pressurized steam and chilled water is carried from the plant to campus buildings through a network of underground pipes. All of the equipment inside the Plant-- including the boilers and chillers-- are used on a rotational basis. The redundancy built into the system allows for reliability, flexibility, backup capacity, and for regular preventive maintenance to be performed. A diesel-powered generator is available to keep the system going in case of a major power outage. The Plant is operated and staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
For over a half century the Plant has grown through efficiency and innovation to supply the UVM campus with a reliable source of steam and chilled water. Learn more about the history of the building and Plant.
Steam is distributed to campus facilities where it is reduced in pressure in order to feed steam heating coils, domestic hot-water heaters, sterilizers and humidifiers. As the steam loses its energy to the building systems, it cools and condenses. The condensate is collected within each building and pumped back to the plant through the network of underground piping. The condensate is then “polished” (a processes where minerals and sediment removed) and fed back to the boilers to make more steam. Learn more about our boilers and steam generation.
Centralized chilled water used for space cooling (air conditioning) is also piped underground to several main campus buildings from the plant. As the heat is removed from the space by the chilled water it is returned to the Cage, where the heat is rejected. Currently, the chilled water-generating equipment at the plant operates six months of the year. Learn more about Central Cooling.
System Controls and Monitoring
The operating engineers at the Plant use an extensive system of computers to monitor, assess, and control the heating and cooling of most University buildings. These computers take into account outside air temperature and humidity along with real-time indoor temperatures to produce comfortable and functional building environments. Learn more about the Building Automation Controls team. The Central Utility Plant is the metaphorical heart of UVM because it manages the physical health of our buildings so that the UVM community can stay focused on its mission to learn and to serve.