May 8, 2017

Thinking Outside the Box: Asset Renewal and Resiliency

In this short video, Robert Shipley, Associate Vice President of Facilities at Adelphi University, shares his experience balancing a large retrofit project with construction of a new campus building, and describes the challenges of fitting modern technology into a space built in the mid-1900’s. The results of some smart engineering in 2016 are generating significant savings in 2017, giving Bob just a little bit more to work with as he faces his next set of challenges.

What did it take to bring this complex project to completion?

Robert Shipley — The project was extremely complex. We were trying to retrofit modern equipment into a boiler room that was built in 1928. It took a lot of teamwork between the University and Ecosystem to get the project to work. We replaced three aging boilers, and we installed a new 2MW cogen unit. And because the cogen was inside the building, we needed to put a sound attenuation enclosure around it. We had some small boilers that we could use to operate the campus through the summer while the project was undertaken. Demolishing boilers from World War II is a complex project. It took quite a bit of time just to get the old boilers out of the way and prepare the space for the new. The new boilers went in and were up and running pretty quickly, and the project has been running very well for the last six months.

In the middle of all this, we were putting up a 100,000-square-foot academic building as well, which added to my project management responsibilities. Ecosystem did a great job of keeping me in the loop, and I didn’t have to be on top of it every day.

We had to work around seasons obviously. We can’t take boilers out when they’re providing heat and hot water for the entire campus, so  through the first summer, when we started the project, we demolished boilers, replaced the boilers with new, and got them up for the fall and heating seasons.

Can you elaborate on the customization element of the project?

Robert Shipley — When we initially looked at our boiler room, it seemed on paper to be pretty simple, that we had plenty of room to work. When we started putting equipment down on the floor plan, however, we quickly realized that we were not going to be able to put everything on the floor. We had to get a little creative, and Ecosystem came up with a method of building a mezzanine above working height. We were able to put a lot of the heating exchangers and boilers for the cogen up on this mezzanine so that we still had adequate space on the floor. We had to make sure we had adequate clearance for major maintenance on the cogen: at some point a generator will have to come out and get serviced, the engine will come out and get a major overhaul, so we need to maintain clearance to move this equipment around on the floor. Fortunately, with a 25-foot height in the boiler room, we could stack equipment up in the air.

What are you seeing on the bills?

Robert Shipley — The savings on the project have been better than we had anticipated in the engineering study. We’re currently averaging about $150,000/month in savings on our electric bills. Through the winter months, we have been down to the minimum import from the utility and running the entire campus strictly through the cogen.

How did the project improve campus resiliency?

Robert Shipley — One of the great benefits of cogen, one of the selling points that I use with the administration, is the fact that we can run the campus in emergency conditions if we don’t have incoming utility power. It’s a little bit of a process, but I can basically run almost the entire campus on the cogen if for some reason, we lose incoming utility power. Combined with standby diesel generators on critical buildings, we have 100%