Consulting – Engineer Specification | Gannett Fleming: Design of the Shippensburg University Power Plant

Design office: Gannet

2016 MEP Giants Ranking: 50

Project: Design of the University of Shippensburg utility plant

Site: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

Type of building: Educational institution

Type of project: System overhaul (e.g. mechanical system upgrade, fire protection system overhaul, etc.)

Engineering services: Electric power; HVAC, mechanical; lighting; energy, sustainability; plumbing, piping

Project timeline: January 2011 to July 2015

MEP / FP budget: $ 31.9 million


Ensuring the comfort and safety of students and faculty while keeping costs low were central themes in Gannett Fleming’s development and implementation of a new central cooling plant for the University of Shippensburg in Pennsylvania. The works included the simultaneous dismantling of an existing central heating installation and the installation of a more efficient decentralized heating plant strategy. The work also included the coordination of the associated heating / cooling distribution piping systems. Throughout the 210-acre campus, 27 of the 55 buildings and 1.8 million square feet (out of a total of 2.4 million square feet) of space have been affected by the massive project.

Minimizing disruption on campus was one of the most visible challenges. To ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors, alternative routes have been provided for sidewalks or temporarily closed pathways and construction areas have been clearly identified and fenced for excavation work. The university’s operational calendar also required special attention. To avoid disrupting staff and student schedules, and to take advantage of the heating and cooling seasons, the new infrastructure was designed to be built on a fully operational university campus. New heating boiler systems and underground hot water and steam pipelines were installed in late spring and summer when classes were not in progress. The new central chillers and chilled water piping were installed during the fall, winter and spring without disrupting the class schedule.

Parts of some buildings had to be closed to allow for the demolition of existing steam heating equipment and for the installation of new hot water boilers, associated pumps, controls and piping. This complicated the construction schedule and required a phased approach to temporarily relocate existing systems to minimize downtime.

In all campus buildings heated with hot water, the existing steam-to-water converters and associated equipment were removed and the existing building’s heating system was reconnected to the new distribution system piping. In addition, seven buildings on campus had never been converted from steam heating to hot water heating. To support these buildings, new steam boilers and distribution systems were also supplied. The sequencing of these activities was essential to the success of the project.

Another challenge was to modernize the existing underground natural gas distribution system to account for the additional loads of gas-fired hot water boilers, which replaced the outdated steam plant and coal-fired distribution piping. To meet this challenge, a new connection to the campus network was made and a new gas meter installed. In places where additional pipe capacity was needed, parallel lines were installed to minimize service downtime and construction costs. These new lines have been sized with a view to the future in anticipation of changes to the campus.

The team also took a creative approach when upgrading three buildings listed on the National Historic Register, including Old Main. Gannett Fleming professionals successfully integrated the new infrastructure while meeting the stringent requirements set by the National Historic Registry.


Gannett Fleming’s innovative solutions have resulted in the replacement of the over 60-year-old coal-fired steam plant with a more efficient, single-cluster decentralized modular heating system, as well as the addition of a new power plant. chilled water cooling and underground distribution. arrangement for campus air conditioning needs. This new heating and cooling infrastructure maximizes thermal comfort for students and staff while significantly reducing energy consumption and limiting environmental impact.

Before the design of the new heating system, Gannett Fleming compared the life cycle costs of several design options and found that a savings of $ 19.3 million over 30 years could be achieved by designing a heating system. decentralized instead of a single central.

Now, mini-heating systems bundled with natural gas boilers provide heat to most buildings on campus. The 25 new boilers, located in seven new boiler house locations, reduce the distance to be traveled by the heat, which significantly reduces piping distribution costs and energy distribution losses compared to the coal-fired heating plant of ‘origin. In addition, the boilers are high efficiency and have been designed with sufficient redundancy so that the loss of a boiler does not affect the ability of the system to meet space heating needs.

The creative heating solution is already having an impact. For the 2014-2015 heating season, the campus energy use index decreased by more than 38.1% compared to the previous 4 years.

Upgrades to campus cooling systems have also produced positive results. A new 3,000-ton high-efficiency cooling plant using variable primary rate pumping and underground piping distribution now provides the majority of campus cooling. To reduce peak cooling demand, a 1.7 million gallon thermal energy storage tank was installed, allowing chilled water to be generated during off-peak hours, such as at night, to supply up to ‘to 4 hours of capacity at full load without the need for mechanical cooling. In addition, an existing 500 ton air-conditioned chiller was relocated next to the new central plant to allow low load or winter operation and additional redundancy.

By comparing the power consumption data during the 2014-2015 cooling season to the previous 4 years, the university achieved a 12% reduction in kilowatt-hour consumption and a 14.8% reduction in demand, despite an 11% increase in cooling degree days.

Leon E. Hill

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