Campus News - December 3, 2001
Lobo Energy project moves UNM toward energy conservation
UNM is establishing a utility infrastructure improvement program that will
ultimately result in more efficient energy production and significant energy
savings associated with lighting, heating and cooling the campus.
Net emissions of air pollutants to the global atmosphere from UNM operations
will be reduced when the entire project is completed in 2004, says Vern
Hershberger, environmental health specialist, UNM Department of Safety, Health
and Environmental Affairs.
UNM issued System Revenue Bonds in the amount of $52.7 million in April 2001 to fund renovation of the Ford Utilities Center, which is UNMs central heating plant, to construct a new cooling plant, and fund other associated energy conservation projects.
The bonds will be repaid with energy savings resulting from greater equipment
efficiency and lower consumption.
The UNM Utilities system produces and provides heating, cooling, electricity,
potable water and sewer services in volumes that rival many small towns,
says Jeff Easton, chief executive officer of Lobo Energy, Inc., a UNM subsidiary
focusing on the Universitys energy and conservation needs. The system
serves a campus of 650 acres inhabited by 25,000 people working and learning
in approximately six million square feet of building space, he said.
The Ford Utility Centers existing natural gas-fired boilers were incrementally installed during the period from 1948 to 1975.
Those aging boilers will be replaced with new boilers installed and operated
to meet or be cleaner than air quality standards thus reducing the air emissions
associated with the boiler equipment, said Larry Schuster, utilities engineer,
UNM Physical Plant. The new boilers will be more efficient, meaning that
less natural gas will be consumed to produce the same amount of steam for the
campus. Since less natural gas is burned, operating costs and air emissions
are lowered, he says.
The Ford Utilities Center circulates steam and chilled water to campus buildings
for heating and cooling building space and research activities. The equipment
is well past its normal service life resulting in high repair costs, frequent
breakdowns, and high operating cost, Schuster says.
New boilers and chillers will be constructed in an addition to the south side
of the Ford Utilities Center building. When the new equipment is operational
in 2004, the old equipment will be removed from Ford Utilities Center and it
will be modernized for storage, shop floor space and training and meeting areas
not currently available.
New cogeneration units will be installed in the old boiler space. Cogeneration
is the simultaneous production of two energy productsin this case, steam
and electricityfrom one fuel source, such as natural gas, Schuster
explains. This process can reach nearly 80 percent efficiency as compared
with only 40 percent efficiency if each product were produced separately.
The renovation project will use newer gas turbine technology that is at least
35 percent more efficient in producing electricity than the 1989 equipment currently
in use. Upon project completion, cogeneration will produce approximately
65 percent of campus heating needs and 40 percent of campus electrical needs,
One part of the overall effort currently underway is the replacement of piping
that circulates chilled water throughout the campus by means of a six-mile closed-loop
water system. Several cooling plants distributed throughout the campus chill
One of the plants on UNMs north campus, which is located at the entrance
to the University Hospital and provides cooling primarily to the north campus,
has become a prime candidate for renewal and replacement due to
recurring problems associated with its age, Schuster says. That, and proposed
expansion involving University Hospital and other Health Science Center facilities,
will require the demolition of the existing plant and construction of a new
one south of Lomas Blvd.
The new plant will be energy efficient and have sufficient capacity to adequately
cool UNMs main and north campuses, Easton says. To solve inadequate chilled
water distribution capability on the main campus, a new pipeline consisting
of two 24-inch diameter pipes is being constructed to connect the plant to several
points on the existing chilled water loop.
A number of associated energy conservation projects include replacing inefficient
lighting in most campus buildings, correcting inefficiencies in building chilled
water piping and installing energy management controls in most buildings. Installing
new lamps and electronic ballasts in existing lighting fixtures will reduce
lighting electricity use by at least 30 percent, Schuster says.
By correcting chilled water piping problems in buildings, the new chilled
water equipment will be able to better serve the cooling needs of the buildings.
Not only will these modifications improve cooling efficiency, they will reduce
campus energy consumption, he adds.
Easton says UNM has had an energy management system since the 1970s. It is no longer operational because repair parts and technical support are no longer available to maintain it. Technology simply passed it by many years ago. A new energy management and control system will enable remote monitoring and control of building heating and cooling systems to ensure proper environments are maintained at the lowest use and cost available.
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