Upcoming improvements to campus chilled water infrastructure will boost operational, energy efficiency
A major multiyear project set to begin around July 8 will deliver critical upgrades to Virginia Tech’s chilled water infrastructure.
The chilled water system is a vital component of campus infrastructure. Currently, two on-campus chiller plants distribute chilled water through an underground piping network to cool buildings across the Blacksburg campus.
Under the upcoming renovations, three state-of-the-art 3,000-ton chillers will be installed in both chiller plants, including two in the North Chiller Plant located on Stanger Street adjacent to the university’s Power Plant and one in the Southwest Chiller Plant located in the Duckpond Drive Parking Lot (known as the Cage). The new equipment will meet all Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) refrigerant requirements for environmental responsibility.
In addition, roughly four miles of new underground piping will be installed across campus. The extensive piping network will connect the North and Southwest Chiller Plants, along with buildings with stand-alone chiller systems, into one continuous chilled water loop.
The new chillers and expanded chiller network will not only improve chilled water capacity and distribution across campus, but also deliver enhanced operational and energy efficiency and cost savings for the university.
Furthermore, the upgrades will enable the university to have greater control over chilling operations and maintenance, leading to improved service delivery and less downtime for repairs.
The upgraded equipment and centralized network will help expand operating capacity to support enrollment growth as well as construction and renovation priorities highlighted in the Campus Master Plan, Beyond Boundaries 2047: The Campus Plan and Strategic Plan, The Virginia Tech Difference: Advancing Beyond Boundaries.
“As the university continues to evolve and grow, it is vital our operations infrastructure is ready to support this exciting transformation,” said Sherwood Wilson, vice president for operations. “Upgrading our chiller network and shifting to a centralized chiller system will help support university strategic priorities while also achieving operations efficiency at scale.”
Project timeline and potential campus impacts
The chiller plant upgrades and piping network installation are expected to begin around July 8 and be completed in entirety in two-to-three years. The project will require installation of an extensive piping network under campus roadways, pathways, and other campus spaces. As a result, there will be ongoing traffic, pedestrian, parking, and accessibility disruptions throughout the project’s lifecycle.
Piping and chiller installation will take place in stages. The campus community can stay up-to-date on the project’s status and find more information about the upgrades by clicking here.
Stanger Street Upper Parking Lot: Beginning July 8, 2019, the Stanger Street Upper Parking Lot will be closed through approximately Aug. 31, 2019, to accommodate the chilled water infrastructure project. ADA parking spaces will be relocated within the lot.
Kent Street/Englewood Drive Closure: The Kent Street/Englewood Drive closure will begin on July 8, 2019, and end approximately Aug. 11, 2019.
The Virginia Tech Facilities Department is committed to keeping the community informed on the latest traffic, pedestrian, parking, and accessibility impacts. During the project, the Facilities website, Campus Closures Map, and on-campus signage will provide information about these impacts. Construction teams will strive to maintain a barrier-free environment and will restore affected areas to a compliant, accessible state. Please report any accessibility barriers using this form.
Please direct specific chilled water infrastructure project questions to Gerard Folio.
Photo gallery of piping and campus chiller plants: