When students return this fall, they will notice freshly poured sidewalks, green grass and a lack of fencing.
According to J. Lance Bryson, associate vice president for facilities, the construction of the chilled water plant is 98 percent complete as of July 16. The paving of roads represents a few of the finishing touches. Any remaining projects are anticipated to be completed by mid-August, Bryson said.
Noisy air conditioning units in buildings all over campus are now silent, replaced by the new cooling plant that was a key part of a $30.2 million project to replace SU’s outdated heating and cooling systems and reduce its impact on the environment.
The university’s carbon footprint—the amount of carbon dioxide generated annually through its everyday activities—is now nearly 40 percent smaller.
That also translates to an expected yearly savings of $330,000 in electrical costs, Bryson said.
“The three primary areas that contribute to our environmental impact are commuting traffic, the electricity we buy and what we do here on campus,” Bryson said. “Decommissioning the coal-powered steam plant and implementing the new natural gas heating system last fall reduced our overall footprint by 31 percent. The new cooling system will drop it another 8 percent.”
The cooling plant, which distributes chilled water, was built off Adams Drive near the Cora I. Grove Spiritual Center. Its four chillers replace 24 separate building units, some of which were outdated because the refrigerant they use no longer is manufactured.
“We were dealing with aged systems that needed to be replaced, but it really is a sustainability issue, too, trying to lessen our environmental impact,” Bryson said.
The six new residence halls built since 2011 have their own, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems separate from the rest of the university.
The project’s cost was paid by the state’s capital funding program.