Sustainability and Resiliency

Thermal Efficiency Project

Completed in 2020, this three-year, $24 million project has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and helped clear the way for net-zero campus emissions.

Rethinking On-Campus Operations

Brown’s campus is made up of approximately 240 buildings, the majority of which are heated via an on-site operation at the Central Heat Plant (CHP).  In 2016, Brown embarked on this transformational project to rethink how we acquire, use and distribute our heat from the CHP.

The Thermal Energy Efficiency Project converted the CHP from a steam-powered high-temperature system to a medium-temperature hot water distribution system. Ultimately, the project is expected to save the University about $1 million per year in utility costs. It also absorbed $17 million in planned capital renewal requirements, which brings the net capital cost of the project to about $7 million. The result is a project that will have paid for itself just seven years after completion.

The Thermal Efficiency Project converted the three CHP Boilers boilers from 150 psi steam to pressurized hot water. This improves plant efficiency and allows future integration of renewably sourced electric heat pumps as a heat source. The project also eliminated all eleven steam hubs on the campus heating loop and heating loads are now served by medium temperature hot water or local steam boilers. This allows operation at lower heating loop temperatures. Finally, steam distribution systems and terminal devices were converted for nearly 40 buildings, improving system efficiency.

TEP Water Distribution

TEP infographic demonstrating how the system works