Penn State to upgrade West Campus steam plant

November 19, 2009

University Park, PA — Penn State will upgrade its West Campus steam plant starting in 2010 as part of its ongoing plan to promote greater environmental stewardship and ensure reliable heating for campus buildings.

Since 2005, Penn State has been following an energy master plan for the University Park campus, according to Ford Stryker, associate vice president for Physical Plant, and that plan has been under continuous revisions to keep up with changes in the energy field as well as environmental expectations.

"The energy master plan assesses the future of our electrical, cooling and heating systems and related facilities," said Stryker. "The plan has been informed by emerging technologies, regulatory developments, fiscal constraints and environmental best practices. Our goals with such a plan are to have continued capacity and reliability of all of our energy systems, protection from fuel price volatility, and to further the University’s aggressive targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."

A major focus of the master planning effort has been the West Campus Steam Plant, which has been providing reliable steam heating service to the University Park campus for almost 80 years. Built in 1930, the plant has been diligently maintained and updated as the campus grew, technology changed and environmental regulations evolved.

"While the plant has served the campus well, it is clear that more significant changes to its operation need to occur, which includes dramatically reducing our overall emissions that will likely require switching fuel sources," said Steve Maruszewski, deputy associate vice president for Physical Plant.

Penn State has aggressively pursued environmental strategies that will reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and position it as a leader in “green” practices among universities nationwide, Maruszewski said.

As a recognized leader in energy research and education, Penn State has an obligation to pioneer the latest technology that charts a path for others to follow in America's inevitable transition to improved, sustainable forms of energy. Through this initiative, Penn State will continue to demonstrate its commitment to an energy strategy that balances cost considerations with sound environmental stewardship, according to Maruszewski.

It is expected that the design phase of the West Campus plant upgrade will begin in 2010, following a period of analysis informed by outside experts. After completion of design and the extensive permitting process that is required for such facilities, construction activity is expected to start as early as 2012. The University will continue to monitor technology changes in how steam is produced and adapt as new technologies emerge and prove viable.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 01, 2009