It might not be the sexiest capital project on campus but Colin Tennent would argue an upgrade to the university's heating system may well be the most essential.
The heating plant boiler feed water treatment system replacement and expansion project (“I've learned to take a deep breath before saying that,” joked Tennent, university architect and associate vice-president of facilities) will virtually double steam production to 600,000 pounds per hour, enough to support major buildings soon to come on line – Academic Health Sciences, Place Riel and InterVac. The upgrade will also provide enough heating capacity for future developments, including expansion at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Center, and potential expansion on the site of Royal University Hospital, which utilizes the university's central heating and cooling system.
The current steam system, said Tennent, is operating close to maximum output “and we need to know that if something happens, if equipment goes down, we have the capacity to get through. We always like to leave a little margin but we're getting so close to that point now that we don't want to court disaster.”
The $14.85 million project, which received program, design, schedule and budget approval at the Board of Governors meeting Oct. 9, will include an expansion to the Heating Plant building, larger ion exchange vessels, filters, piping, regeneration equipment and additional pumping capacity along with a stand-by generator. Funding details for the project are being finalized.
The recent installation of an additional chiller unit means no increase in chilling capacity is required, Tennent said.
Infrastructure like the heating system is often the forgotten component of campus expansion, he said. “I tell people that it's fine to have a ribbon cutting for a new building but if the infrastructure isn't in place, right after the ceremony you can take the ribbon and use it to tie the doors closed.”