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Powering the future from remains of the past

By District Energy posted 01-16-2018 11:54


This article appears in the Q1 2018 edition of District Energy Magazine

Facing a boiler capacity shortage, the University of Minnesota rehabilitated a retired, antiquated steam plant into a model of modern efficiency and sustainability.


The University of Minnesota Twin Cities encompasses approximately 24 million gross sq ft throughout 250 buildings across two campuses – in Minneapolis and St. Paul – approximately 3 miles apart. This flagship of the University of Minnesota system comprises 19 colleges and schools, with sister campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester.

Energy Management, a division of Facilities Management within University Services, oversees the production and distribution of heating, cooling and electricity services to approximately 70,000 students and staff across the Twin Cities campuses. These include

·      centralized steam production and distribution systems delivering high-pressure (200-psig) steam;
·      multiple district chilled-water plants providing 31,000 tons of total cooling capacity;
·      three 13.8 kV switch stations (two in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul) receiving power from multiple Xcel Energy substations and distributing it to the campuses via an underground distribution network; and
·      civil utility infrastructure supporting domestic water, sanitary sewer and storm water drainage that connects to city and regional systems.


Chris Farr, PE, Project Manager, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.

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