Central Plant / District Energy Engineering
CENTRAL PLANT/DISTRICT ENERGY OVERVIEW
Contemporary central plant design seeks to achieve new levels of energy efficiency for a single building or campus by linking together heating, cooling and power generation in advantageous ways. For example, the heat energy remaining in steam used to drive electric generation turbines can be used to heat or cool buildings. District Energy systems scale up these efficiencies of integrated heating/cooling/power by applying them to groups of buildings or multi-block sections of a city. (For information about how District Energy St. Paul heats and cools 185 buildings in downtown St. Paul, MN, click here.) Goss Engineering is an adviser to District Energy St. Paul for the application of thermal energy storage technology and techniques.
Applying these technologies and disciplines, Goss Engineering acted as a consultant to the project mechanical engineer in developing the central plant component of the master plan for the new University of California Merced campus. Seven buildings on the new campus have earned LEED Gold awards. To read an environmental sustainability review of the library building shown below, click here .
Kolligian Library, University of California Merced
COMPLETED CENTRAL PLANT/DISTRICT ENERGY PROJECTS
(Includes both TES and CHP projects.)
TECHNICAL BOOKS / ARTICLES
Goss Engineering is an active participant in the evolution of Central Plant / District Energy Storage design practice in the United States. Goss Engineering staff members have authored/co-authored/edited the following articles and books in the field (partial listing).
TEXTBOOK ON TES SYSTEMS BY LUCAS B. HYMAN, P.E., LEED – AP
Sustainable Thermal Storage Systems: Planning, Design and Operations
A practical guide on how to plan, design, and construct sustainable thermal storage systems.
Use of thermal storage—also called thermal energy storage (TES)—can result in: reduced on-peak electric demand; reduced energy costs; smaller required chiller capacity to meet peak cooling demand; lower capital costs; lower life cycle costs; improved operational flexibility; less air pollution. This book covers all of these aspects.
TEXTBOOK ON CHP SYSTEMS CO-EDITED BY LUCAS B. HYMAN, P.E., LEED – AP
Sustainable On-Site CHP Systems: Design, Construction and Operations
A 2009 engineering textbook book published by McGraw-Hill
REFERENCES ON CENTRAL PLANT / DISTRICT ENERGY DESIGN
Catalog of CHP Technologies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Catalog of CHP Technologies (PDF) (all chapters, 139 pp, 1.5 MB) provides an overview of how combined heat and power (CHP) systems work and the key concepts of efficiency and power-to-heat ratios. It also provides information about the cost and performance characteristics of five commercially available CHP prime movers.
Download chapters from the Catalog of CHP Technologies:
Central Plant Design Options from the BetterBricks web site of NEEA (The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance).
A central plant can be the centerpiece of a commercial facility’s energy efficiency and the resulting benefits – lower operating costs, greater comfort, health and productivity for occupants, better tenant retention, higher property values, and cleaner air due to reduced power plant emissions.
Central Plant Measures
IDEA fosters the success of its members as leaders in providing reliable, economical, efficient and environmentally sound district energy services. We promote energy efficiency and environmental quality through the advancement of district heating, district cooling and cogeneration (also known as combined heat and power or CHP) and we actively lobby to secure favorable policies, legislation and regulations for district energy.
Catalysts for Change — Article in December, 2011, issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer
[Excerpt] University and college campuses provide ideal opportunities for reducing carbon emissions from our built environment [by adopting District Energy strategies].
Across the University of Toronto’s downtown St. George campus are 120 large buildings — over 12 million square feet of space — all consuming energy. The buildings range from heavy masonry Victorian structures like the venerable Mining Building on College Street, to sleek glass boxes such as the Pharmacy Building at the corner of University Avenue.
To walk from one side of the campus to the other takes about 20 minutes. The site is threaded with busy streets and narrow laneways, some of which are owned by the university. There are shady paths, wide open sports fields, and secluded courtyards. Like many of Canada’s universities, the campus represents a quiet oasis in the heart of the teeming city.
But Canadian university and college campuses are becoming much more. They provide an almost ideal incubator for developing ways of making our buildings and cities more energy efficient. The campus is like a mini-town, with many different types of buildings and facilities — but all under one owner. Generally there is one department in charge of buildings and facilities and those people work under a ruling administration that is relatively free of political and other constraints. So it can be easier to reach decisions about building in a sustainable way in the campus environment than in the messy “real” world outside. more
[Excerpt] To understand the importance of storage, it is imperative that one understands the electric power grid. If you have ever lived in a warm environment, you have probably experienced a brown-out. Brown-outs typically happen in the heat of day, when the temperatures are high and buildings across the area are turning up the air-conditioning and creating an enormous need for energy. Because of this, in the middle of any day, the demand on the power grid is the highest. In addition to the air-conditioning running at full power, more lights are on and multiple appliances are in use. Because of the strain on the grid, the costs for electricity are highest during those “on-peak” hours and the generation is often the dirtiest since all the old plants are turned on to help meet the demand. On the flip side—at night—when the majority of people are sleeping, there is a very low demand on the grid, and sometimes, even over-capacity. This is called “off-peak.”
Storage is the Answer: In its present configuration, our electric grid has almost no “storage” capability so that electricity must be produced exactly when it is needed. This is possible when your source of energy is fossil fuel (stored energy) but is very difficult and expensive when it is renewable energy (wind or solar). Adding energy storage to the grid will be critical in our quest to lower societies’ carbon emissions.
Acheiving Plant Optimization By Dave Klee of Johnson Controls. An article in the Daily Energy Report.
Buildings – big and small, old and new – are collectively the largest consumers of energy worldwide. Within each individual building, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems consume the most energy. An even closer look at a building’s various HVAC systems will reveal that it’s the building’s central chilled water plant that is the biggest energy glutton.
The Canadian District Energy Association (CDEA)/Association Canadienne des Réseaux Thermiques (ACRT) is an industry association representing member utilities, government agencies, building owners, consulting engineers, suppliers, developers, bankers, and investors who share a common interest in promoting the growth of district energy in Canada.