Dartmouth College positions itself as a green technology frontrunner

Dartmouth University

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Jens Ole Hansen

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The Ivy League University in New Hampshire is preparing for a steam-to-hot-water conversion, which will make it possible to replace the old fuel oil-fired CHP plant with renewable energy sources. The aim is significant carbon reductions making Dartmouth one of the most eco-friendly universities amongst the Ivy League campuses.

Founded in 1769, Dartmouth is along in years. And so is the university’s energy distribution system, which will now be replaced with a new highly efficient and modern European style hot water system.

Multiple energy supply sources are being explored as potential replacements for the old steam system, and once the faculty makes a final decision, approximately 6,300 students and 3,000 employees will benefit from an improved indoor climate.

Solutions based on renewables 

Biomass was one of the early front runners as the new energy source to replace fuel oil, but the biomass concept has been abandoned and the college is now looking at other renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and renewable power driven heat pumps. 

The campus area covers 128.97 km2 and consists of 120 buildings with a peak winter heat load of 30 MWt. 

Improved indoor climate and fewer repairs on campus

The main cost of the project is the renovation of old campus buildings to make them fit for the new low-temperature energy system. In the long run, this cost will be outweighed by the general efficiency of the new system. 

Besides being an economically sound investment, the new energy supply also saves the environment a considerable amount of CO2 and improves the indoor climate at all campus facilities.

Another benefit is that the conversion will put a stop to the constant repair work and digging up of old, wrecked steam lines, which has become a frequent occurrence in the campus area.

Ramboll’s role: Planning and technical issues

The main deliverables consisted of concept design reports covering planning and technical issues associated with the network and plant design, including piping/equipment selection, network installation/construction considerations and conversion of the internal systems of the existing buildings from steam to hot water.

Following this preliminary study, Ramboll continued to work with the college and designed the first set of hot water pipes connecting the existing system to the new expansion of the engineering school.

 

More information

Installation costs of hot water technology

An analysis of European hot water technology installation costs (article from District Energy magazine, see p. 7-11) 

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