Weber State University

Project Summary

Weber State University constructed a new chiller plant equipped with Trane chillers to increase cooling capacity and efficiency and that is expected to save the University more than $400,000 in energy costs over the next twenty years.

Challenge

Tom VanCleave, Plant Operations Director at Weber State University, said, “In the early 1970s we had two absorption chillers. Eventually we ran out of cooling capacity as the campus grew. In 1988 we installed another 1250-ton centrifugal chiller and simply abandoned the absorption chillers in place. In 1994 we installed a 650-ton Trane centrifugal chiller. By 2001 the University added several more new buildings and again we were out of cooling capacity. We added another 1250-ton Trane centrifugal chiller, also in the basement of the science laboratory building. Then we added another new building and although the chiller plant could cover the maximum expected cooling load, we had no redundancy. If any chillers went down, we could lose control of our campus cooling loop.”

Solution

To develop an efficient, cost-effective solution VanCleave worked with local consulting engineers to study the campus and chilled water system operation, daily load profiles and life-cycle costs. VanCleave said, “We decided to build a new chiller plant so that we could purchase two additional 1500-ton Trane chillers to give us needed backup capacity. We considered proposals from Trane and two other major chiller manufacturers. The Trane proposal was the best, by far, considering life-cycle costs. Another reason for building the new chiller plant was to get the older chillers out of the basement of the science building, which has a lot of delicate, precision instrumentation in it. The chiller water pumps were creating enough vibration to create problems.”

The existing 650- and 1250-ton Trane chillers were moved from the science building basement into the new chiller plant along with the new 1500-ton Trane chillers. VanCleave added, “We had a very tight schedule for the project. We began work in November 2007 as the new chiller plant had to be operating by April 2008.”

Results

The new chillers consume only .538 kW of electricity per ton of cooling capacity for an expected $400,000 in energy savings over the next 20 years. The project is now pending USGBC LEED Silver certification. Tom VanCleave said, “We participated in the Trane customer witness test which verifies the performance of each chiller at various load conditions to assure the customer that the chiller will provide the specified chilled water temperature, flow rate and efficiency. The Trane chillers have been absolutely trouble free and we’re exceeding the energy efficiency projections. We have a very aggressive maintenance program and we get excellent support from Trane.

"The Trane chillers run so smoothly and quietly that it is difficult to tell which chiller is running when you walk into the chiller plant. Trane is just super to work with. No matter what my question, they’ll get me the right answer or get me hooked up with the right people at Trane who have the answer.”

About Weber State University

Founded in 1889, Weber State University includes 37 academic buildings. WSU is becoming more environmentally friendly, promoting mass transit, bicycling and car pooling. WSU has very aggressive recycling and renewable energy programs and has committed more than $7 million towards campus energy efficiency projects to be completed in the next three years. In addition to Trane cooling upgrades, boiler upgrades are saving about 7,300 decatherms of natural gas per year. Lighting upgrades are saving 823,000 kWh of electricity--about 1.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide not released into the atmosphere.

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