The Engineering Services department is sometimes referred to as the Central Plant. In fact, the Central Plant building is the heart of the campuses heating and air conditioning system. Within the building our equipment produces steam and chilled water which is then circulated across the campus through a network of below and above ground piping.
Once the steam and chilled water enters the buildings, a series of pumps, valves, and fans are operated by an automated, computerized system. The system works to maintain a balance between building occupant comfort and energy efficiency.
However, not all of the campus is served by the Central Plant. There are boilers and air conditioning units located in other facilities around the campus.
Core Department Responsibilities
- Emergency Service Calls
- Central Plant Operation and Maintenance
- HVAC/Mechanical System Maintenance
- Energy Management and Building Automation Systems
- HVAC Repair and Installation
Engineering Services staff are available to respond to your HVAC problems immediately during normal campus office hours. Typically 7:30am - 4:30pm, Monday - Friday. Please call the Customer Service Center at 278-6242 to make a request.
For times other than normal office hours, and as described below, call the Central Plant directly at 278-6130. A technician will either respond immediately, or will be paged and get back to you as soon as possible. If you decide to leave a message, please describe the problem, and leave your name and number so that the technician can help you most efficiently.
Central Plant operating hours are:
- November - May (24hrs per day, 7 days per week)
- June - October (Monday - Friday, 7:00am - midnight), (Saturday, 7:45am - 4:30pm), (Sunday, closed)
To report a problem that must be dealt with immediately at a time other than what's listed above, please call the University Police Department at 278-6851.
During the heating season, (November - May), the Central Plant boilers are operating and must be monitored 24 hours a day. The Central Plant chillers are taken apart and cleaned during this time as well.
During the cooling season, (June - October), the boilers are shut down for maintenance. The chillers are then run regularly to provide air conditioning for the majority of the campus. Since the chillers consume a lot of energy, we attempt to limit the amount of time they run during the day. At night they run to chill the water in the Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Tank. We then circulate TES water around the campus during the day, thereby allowing us to keep the chillers off during peak hours, which reduces electrical costs substantially.
The millions of square feet of space that need to be heated and cooled means that there are thousands of pieces of equipment that need to be maintained.
Our maintenance activities include:
- Maintaining and repairing several miles of underground heating and cooling distribution lines.
- Replacing air filters and cleaning air distribution system components.
- Greasing bearings, oiling motors, changing belts, etc.
- Cleaning heating and cooling coils.
- Evaluating/adjusting operating conditions/parameters of auxiliary systems and components.
Several computer systems are in place which are designed to optimize energy consumption and building occupant comfort. The systems gather data from around the campus such as temperatures, pressures, and other operating conditions. They then evaluate that data, look at the time of day, and other factors, and make adjustments accordingly.
The quantity and variety of controls and the environment that they operate in means that adjustments and repairs must be made continually. Our staff can recognize potential problems by analyzing computer data and make corrections before there is any impact on building occupants. Constantly changing needs on the campus require us to develop solutions quickly and cost effectively. Through training and partnerships with vendors and other professionals, we strive to provide flexible control systems that reduce equipment downtime and costs, and maintain comfortable indoor environments.
Our highly experienced and knowledgeable Engineering Services staff perform repairs and install new systems for a variety of applications. As mechanical systems reach the end of their useful life, our department develops and implements plans to replace those systems. We also work closely with our Project Design and Development department to develop new projects and specify equipment that provides the university the best value for our long term needs.