• The historic Central Plant is located in the heart of UVM's main campus on the opposite end of the Royall Tyler Theatre.

About the Plant

The University of Vermont operates its own "district energy" plant located in the center of main campus. The Central Plant generates steam and chilled water to serve the campus needs for space heating, air conditioning, domestic hot water generation and scientific research support. High-pressure steam and chilled water exits the Plant and is distributed to campus buildings through a network of insulated underground pipes.The Plant is operated and staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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. 

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.

Chilled Water

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.

UVM Featured in "District Energy" Magazine

The evolution of our Central Chilled Water system was recently featured in a national publication published by the International District Energy AssociationClick here for the full article.


The Central Utility Plant is the metaphorical "heart"of campus 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.