HOW THIS DECOMMISSIONED HEATING PLANT BECAME A SOPHISTICATED ON-SITE UTILITY
A106-year-old heating plant on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities
campus is finding new life as a co-generation combined heat and power utility.
Shut down in 2000, the former Old Main
Heating Plant – now known as the Main
Energy Plant – features a new 22. 8 MW
combustion turbine and heat recovery system to replace the 1912 facility’s coal- and
gas-fired boilers. It’s fueled by natural gas
and generates electric power and steam
to heat and cool most of the Minneapolis
The new utility is also 83% energy efficient – more than double the efficiency of
its coal-fired predecessor.
Reinventing Old Main was a key compo-
nent of the university’s climate action plan
to reduce campus emissions in half by 2020.
It will reduce the university’s net carbon
footprint by 10-13%, save roughly $2 mil-
lion annually in utility operating costs and
Capital Planning and Project Management
UMN received a $2 million rebate from
the CenterPoint Energy Conservation
Improvement Program and $10 million from
a 2012 state bonding bill to defray some of
The facility will eventually expand into a
full-service campus facility that will provide
chilled water for air conditioning.
affected by any disruptions to the local grid.
“The Main Energy Plant allows the Twin
Cities campus to operate as an energy
island so that critical University services at
hospitals, clinics and research
facilities can be
there are external
the University of
foot plant cost
about $112.9 million, according to
Slash Your Building's Waste with a
THE PROVISIONS ARE DESIGNED TO ACCELERATE EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS
Does your building exceed the base- line energy efficiency performance
required by your local code? If so, it may
be able to meet the more stringent requirements of the New Buildings Institute’s
stretch building code strategies.
The 20% Stretch Code Provisions are a
set of tools to help jurisdictions increase
the stringency of local codes to accelerate efficiency improvements. They’re
designed to achieve a 20% performance
improvement over existing national model
energy codes, like IECC 2015 and ASHRAE
Standard 90.1-2013, and include design
strategies for envelope, mechanical, water
heating, lighting and plug loads.
2015 to get the state ready for a planned
zero energy code in 2030.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued three easily
quantifiable targets to bridge the gap to
n 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emis-
sions from 1990 levels
n 50% of energy requirements derived
from renewable sources
n 23% decrease in building energy con-
sumption from 2012 levels
In response, the New York State Energy
Research and Development Authority
(NYSERDA) developed NYStretch-Energy, a
stretch code to achieve an energy savings
of roughly 10% above the code minimum
(at the time, 2015 IECC) for all building
types. The idea was that the stretch code
would stay one cycle ahead of the baseline.
Ready to embrace the future of energy
codes and ensure your building will be
compliant during the next cycle? Check out
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But you don’t have to wait for your area
to adopt the stretch code revisions during
code review – any individual building can
use the stretch code as a framework, and
state and local governments that choose to
make the code’s adoption voluntary may
even incentivize owners and builders to hit
the stretch requirements.
“The stretch code provisions are
designed to be flexible and allow cities and
states to chart their own course toward
creating a better building stock locally,”
explains Mark Frankel, Technical Director of
the New Buildings Institute and developer
of the stretch code provisions.
New York launched a similar effort in
THIS DECOMMISSIONED HEATING PLANT is now a co-generation
utility that lets the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus
operate as an energy island.