Artist's drawing of the proposed chilled water facility

Construction starting on university’s heating, cooling systems

A project is underway at Shippensburg University to update its heating and cooling systems that will save the university hundreds of thousands of dollars and reduce its carbon footprint.

“The project is necessary to replace the aging infrastructure and to take advantage of reduced operating costs,” according to Lance Bryson, associate vice president of facilities management and planning. “The primary mission is to provide a safe, reliable, and cost effective environment for the university to perform its primary mission of educating students.”

The $30.2 million project is funded by the state through the state’s Capital Funding program. Upon completion, the university expects to save approximately $330,000 per year in electricity costs.

The current coal-powered steam plant used for heating will be decommissioned. Four new centralized heating “neighborhoods” powered by natural gas will be used for on-campus heating. Those systems will be operational by the end of this September. Existing pipes from the steam plant will be used for the new heating system, saving the university approximately $10 million by not having to replace the underground steam system.

A new cooling plant will be constructed near the Cora I. Grove Spiritual Center that will centralize chilled water. The chilled water will be distributed underground to buildings for air conditioning. Currently, each building with air conditioning has its own unit. Grass and landscaping will replace units outside of each building. This part of the project is expected to be complete by April 2015.

In addition to savings in electricity, the shift from coal to natural gas is anticipated to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by 31 percent. The centralization of the chilled water production is anticipated to reduce the carbon footprint by another eight percent.

During construction, campus sidewalks, roads and pathways will be affected. Contractors will provide alternate routes for any pathway that must be temporarily closed and excavations will be safe and well-marked for campus safety.

The first area affected will be Cumberland Drive, Franklin Science Center and Ceddia Union Building sidewalks and paths. Other areas on campus will be affected as the work progresses.