Utilities Services

Overview

Energy needs at Duke are met by three major utilities:

 ·         Chilled Water

 ·         Electricity

 ·         Steam

 

Duke is organized as a district heating and cooling system. Buildings at Duke are heated by steam and cooled with chilled water, both of which are generated on-campus at central plants. Electricity from the electric utility company provides power to the campus.

The University also manages water and sewer on its campuses. The Durham campus is connected to Durham's municipal water system.

All utilities are managed by the Duke Utilities & Engineering Services (DUES) group within the Facilities Management Department. Content on this page refers to Duke's Durham campus only.

The Duke Utilities & Engineering Services group performs utility billing and administrative services, planning, operation, maintenance, and expansion of the University's infrastructure from the point of generation to the point to of delivery (building interface).

Chilled Water

From 2004 to 2012, Duke University developed the majority of a Central Chilled Water System that consists of two central plants (42,000 ton cooling capacity) and over 14 miles of distribution piping. After leaving each plant, chilled water runs to each building on campus, and then through various pipes and air handling equipment to cool the buildings. After leaving a building, the previously chilled water returns via closed loop to a chilled water plant for reuse. The system has what is known as a variable-primary arrangement, meaning that all pumping is done at the plant, requiring no additional pump equipment in buildings.

The centralized production and distribution of chilled water is the most efficient and economical method to cool Duke University’s campus including the Schools of Medicine and Nursing and the Medical Center. The system provides chilled water for process equipment cooling and building air conditioning in a reliable and cost effective manner. Though chilled water is primarily thought of as an air-conditioning cooling source, the system operates year round to keep up with the demands of campus buildings.

Electrical Power

Electricity enters Duke's campus through a ring of five distribution substations, which are supplied with power from Duke Energy (the university and the utility company share no business connection other than name). Electrical power is distributed within the bounds of campus at 15,000 Volts.

The High Voltage team is responsible for the installation, operation, maintenance and distribution of high voltage electric power on campus. The group supports the University, Hospital and Medical Center to maintain the integrity of the electric system on campus, which consists of the five distribution substations, over 15 miles of duct banks and 62 miles of electrical cables. 

This group also maintains the exterior lighting systems on campus, provides electric meter reading services, and maintains Duke's single traffic light. 

Building secondary (lower voltage service and interior electrical systems are handled by the Building Maintenance Electrical Shop.

Steam System

Steam is the main heat source for buildings on campus.

Generated at two different campus plants, the boilers provide high-pressure steam to both East and West Campuses and the Medical Center.  Both plants serve a common distribution system to increase system reliability.  LIke the Chilled Water system, the Steam System operates year round to meet campus demands.

Steam is used for space conditioning, hot water heating, hospital medical equipment sterilization, dining services, pool heating, dishwashing and other process uses. Duke Utilities and Engineering Services (DUES) maintains and operates approximately 35 miles of steam and condensate piping and associated manholes.  DUES is also responsible for steam metering stations, pressure reducing stations, and condensate return systems, located within campus buildings.

West Campus Steam Plant

Duke’s West Campus Steam Plant was built in 1929 as part of Horace Trumbauer's original plan for Duke's West Campus.  In February 2009, the plant ended an 80-year tradition of coal delivery by rail car and began its step toward reducing Duke’s use of coal. In April of 2011 the West Campus Plant burned its last load of coal and began utilizing natural gas.  This fuel change was an important step in the execution of the Duke Climate Action Plan.  With the renovation that enabled the fuel change, the West Campus Steam Plant received significant upgrades in auxiliary equipment, including the addition of a condensing economizer.  This device allows for significant energy recovery and maximized plant efficiency.

East Campus Steam Plant

Duke