The University of Texas at Austin generates 100% of its electric power, steam and cooling for more than 150 buildings comprising 20 million square feet. Electricity, chilled water, steam, condensate recovery, water and sewer lines all run underground in truly redundant loop configurations through a network of tunnels throughout the campus. The university's 135 MW of combined heat and power operates with 88% fuel efficiency at 99.9998% reliability.
But it hasn't always been this way. "17 years ago, we were operating at 62% efficiency," said Juan Ontiveros, P.E., executive director of utilities and energy management for the university, speaking at the Power and Energy Management Industry Forum this week at the Automation Fair in Houston, presented by Rockwell Automation. The Austin campus and its power systems had grown organically since 1929. "Our controls were all pneumatic, and we were at capacity. We had to upgrade, but we couldn't shut down."