CU Boulder Campus Utility System

University of Colorado Boulder

Boulder, Colorado

RMH served as project manager, mechanical/electrical engineer (including design for chilled water generation, steam and chilled water distribution, and building mechanical systems), and LEED consultant for an ambitious project to upgrade the utility infrastructure serving the University of Colorado Boulder’s (CU Boulder) main campus. This multi-phased project was comprised of three main elements:

  • Construction of a new heating and cooling plant
  • Renovation of the existing 103-year-old Powerhouse including expansion of cogeneration capabilities
  • Interconnection of the two plants with new and upgraded distribution

The new state-of-the-art campus utility system was designed to help CU Boulder reach the aggressive carbon-reduction goals established under the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment that was signed in 2007. The centerpiece of the carbon-reduction effort involved overhauling existing natural gas-fired cogeneration equipment in the existing Powerhouse to produce both steam and electrical power. The cogeneration system is further enhanced by using steam produced from combustion turbine exhaust waste heat to increase electrical power output by 20% to 25% without burning any additional fuel. It is anticipated these strategies, along with several others, will reduce carbon emissions by approximately 33,000 tons per year.
The new heating and cooling plant is known as the East District Energy Plant (EDEP) and is located on the east end of campus. The renovated Powerhouse was renamed the West District Energy Plant (WDEP) and is located in the center of the campus. The two plants work in tandem to deliver a higher level of efficiency and reliability than could otherwise be achieved. Initial chilled water capacities from the interconnected plants will accommodate new distribution to the Kittredge Housing Complex, enabling these residence halls to be air conditioned for the first time since they were built nearly 50 years ago.


ENR Mountain States’ Best Projects, Colorado/Wyoming & Plains States Best Projects Winner, Energy/Industrial Category, 2015

LEED Status

Certified LEED-NC Gold (East District Energy Plant)