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New 'Energy Center' ready to power CCSU

Monday, June 12, 2006 3:00 AM EDT

By Scott Whipple

With improvements and upgrades to campus facilities the smokestack no longer serves a purpose. The heart of the university has shifted to the Energy Center.

"Central's Energy Center is a vital state asset," says Richard Bachoo, CCSU's chief administrative officer.

In June 2004, with state support, the university embarked on a new era - supporting its vast campus infrastructure with a new Energy Center. This state-of-the-art, 36,000-square-foot facility supplies heating, cooling, hot water and electricity for the 160-acre campus.

"At present, the center can provide electricity to the entire university at certain load demands," Bachoo said. "The investment in this facility allows Central to reduce some of its dependence on the statewide power grid, add some stability to the university's utility expenditures and enhance our academic mission through use of stable power generation."

"Until the Energy Center came online in 2004," says Daniel Moran, associate chief administrative officer for administrative affairs, "the university's steam heating system, installed in the 1950s-1960s, was outdated and inefficient. And, it was undersized for a campus that had grown from one million square feet of assignable space in the early 1960s to three million square feet by 2003, with another one million square feet expected by 2014."

CCSU incorporated electricity generators in its new Energy Center for reliability and economic reasons. In the event of a brownout or blackout, the system can supply vital loads of energy to campus facilities, powering essential functions and protecting equipment.

In 1997, the university initiated the "Energy Center Tunnel Project." A review of its long-range master plan revealed that the utilities infrastructure couldn't sustain physical plant expansion.

A 2,000-foot-long utility tunnel connected distribution lines for all utilities through the center of campus. Direct-buried pipes and wiring connect each building with this main artery. During tunnel construction new sanitary, storm, water, gas, fiber optics, telephone and electrical distribution lines were installed. Future upgrades and repairs will be less costly and disruptive due to the reduced need for excavation.

Robert LeBaron, CCSU's director of engineering, points out that engineering efforts saved $2.5 million on tunnel design.

"The project also has indirect benefits," LeBaron explains. "Removal of old asbestos-encased, direct-buried steam lines - and the elimination of isolated, direct-expansion cooling systems from some buildings - have made the campus more environmentally friendly."

The location, new equipment and noise-abating construction of the Energy Center has meant a quieter, cleaner atmosphere for students, faculty, employees and neighbors.
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