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January 22, 2013
Project: University of Oregon Central Heat and Power Plant
Client: University of Oregon
The University of Oregon was founded in 1876 and counts among its alumni seven Oregon governors, two Nobel laureates and nine Pulitzer Prize winners. Today, the 295-acre campus in Eugene is home to more than 22,000 students from all over the U.S. and 85 foreign countries.
The demand for reliable and efficient heat on campus is growing, and the university realized it had a problem. Not only did it need to satisfy current demand for heat, but it also needed new systems that would accommodate the university for at least the next 40 years.
Wood Harbinger, serving as prime consultant, brought together key stakeholders for a three-day charette at the project’s inception. Participants included the design team, the university, adjacent property owners and local utility districts.
This intense sharing of information and concerns helped Wood Harbinger nail down specific solutions and goals, and in the process ensured strong support from those involved.
Wood Harbinger engineers veered away from traditional constant full-power heat generation and designed a combined cycle cogeneration plant that was sized for incremental steam loads instead of full power a breakthrough concept. The system is demand-based, so it is very efficient and already has exceeded the state-required energy code by 18 percent.
Also, the problem of vibrations from the surrounding building and other systems on the steam-turbine generator was exacerbated because the floor below was hollow, not the usual cement slab. Engineers came up with the idea to install spring-mounted isolators on the generator and its piping to reduce the potentially harmful vibrations.
Barcodes were attached to every piece of equipment and every valve in the steam plant to manage maintenance, repairs and replacement of components.
The new heat and power plant has made the university self-sufficient in steam heat, thereby reducing demand significantly on the local utility. It also is providing a much more comfortable living atmosphere in the university dorms and is delivering an electrical power system that virtually eliminates any future power outages on campus.
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