Heat capture and reuse: innovative campus systems
Author: Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: April 9, 2018

A lot of electricity is needed to power the servers in PSU data centers, not to mention the energy needed to cool the spaces where servers are housed. In fact, data centers like the one in PSU's Fourth Avenue Building and Cramer Hall require cooling year round. Other energy-intensive spaces on campus include research laboratories, where equipment may be needed constantly for activities like heating aquariums, fabricating materials, and more. Thanks to the work of PSU's Facilities & Property Management (or FPM) team, when data centers and lab spaces are cooled, the heat released through ventilation doesn't just disappear. 

Over the past several years, FPM team members have been designing and implementing innovative ways to capture and reuse heat across campus. Instead of letting heat produced by energy-intensive equipment go to waste, the team focuses on heat recovery, finding opportunities to reuse it in order to make our campus systems more energy efficient and cost-effective. 

Under the direction of Rick Viaene, Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance, FPM staff look for ways to ensure that PSU is completing projects that make our campus as efficient as possible. 

FPM has worked with Capital Projects & Construction and other partners to install many heat recovery systems across campus, including in the Fourth Avenue Building and the Science Research & Teaching Center. Captured waste heat is sent to heat exchangers which allows for it to be reused for heating domestic hot water as well as in classrooms and offices. The SRTC system was put into place in 2016. 

"The estimated annual savings are over $45,000 as a result of the project", explained Energy & Utilities Manager Noel Mingo. "We are able to distribute this captured heat to the Science Research & Teaching Center and other buildings on the campus energy loop."

In most cases, projects like these are partially or fully funded using on-campus and external funding mechanisms, such as PSU's Green Revolving Fund or the Energy Trust of Oregon's commercial incentives program. These projects quickly provide a return on investment and help PSU meet its Climate Action Plan goals by reducing natural gas and electricity use and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. 

To learn more about campus sustainability features, such as innovative heating and cooling systems, check out the online campus sustainability tour. A video on the Fourth Avenue Building chiller project is available on the Capital Projects website.