University News

Heating plant upgrade in final phase

Contributing Writer
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The conversion of the University’s boilers is scheduled for completion in May.

A nearly $30 million upgrade to Brown’s central heating plant is well underway, part of a three-phase series of renovations totaling approximately $100 million. The upgrades began in 2005 with a phase that involved replacing seven miles of underground piping below the University and cost about $40 million, according to Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management. The second phase included an additional $35 million in upgrades and was completed in 2009.

The third phase is a long-term project that will span the next 10 to 15 years, Maiorisi said.

The current work in the third phase, which costs about $3.5 million, involves converting the two high pressure boilers at the plant into low pressure boilers and changing the switch gear in the Prince Engineering Laboratory. One boiler has already been converted, and the conversion of the second boiler is slated to be completed in May. The work in Prince Lab is also on schedule. Conversion of the boilers will save the University between $50,000 and $75,000 per year once complete.

The long-term portion of the third phase, which will cost approximately $25 million, involves replacing the remaining underground piping throughout campus. Many of the University’s pipes are still functional and do not yet need to be replaced, which prolongs the project, Maiorisi said.

Originally, the Department of Facilities Management had planned for the third phase to involve the installation of black start capabilities for power outages, which would have enabled generators to kick on automatically. But the University discovered that converting the boilers would accomplish the same goal in a faster and more cost-effective manner, saving about $1.6 million, Maiorisi said.

The high pressure boilers required two employees at the plant at all times, while the low pressure boilers only require one employee, Maiorisi said, allowing for more employees to go out in the field and improving efficiency for Facilities Management workers.

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