Between Aber Hall and the Grizzly Pool lies a 60-foot-tall industrial brick building with an iconic smokestack on one end. The century-old heat plant is a hub for roughly two- and-a-half miles of tunnels that provide steam heating and hot water to much of UM.
The main floor of the archaic building is a jungle of machinery, with pipes running from floor to ceiling on one end. Three large, ‘60s-era green boilers dwarf everything around them. The third boiler’s outdated mercury controls stand out from the basic electronic knobs and buttons for boiler one and two. It’s proof of change in a place seemingly preserved for decades.
The heating plant will soon be home to a much larger change when the University breaks ground on a combined heat and power plant in a few weeks. The new plant, which will sit east of the existing building, will provide heat as well as electricity to campus — an effort to make UM more energy independent.
Dave Kuntz, UM’s director of strategic communications, said UM is building the combined heat and power plant to decrease energy expenses and further sustainability efforts.
“It’s the biggest climate change action the University has taken to date,” he said.