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    Science & Technology

    Chillin' like it's 1977

    By Mason Jones
    Published: Feb. 9, 2011

    Thanks to energy efficiency improvements, The University of Texas at Austin’s power plant uses roughly the same amount of fuel as it did in 1977 — yet it produces about twice the power and serves almost twice the square-footage in building space.

    Over $150 million in efficiency improvements were paid for by savings from reduced fuel costs. In addition to saving the university money, increased efficiency has reduced CO2 emissions from power generation by about 100,000 tons.

    “The greenest energy is the energy not used,” says Juan Ontiveros, director of Utilities and Energy Management.

    Go behind the scenes with Ontiveros in this video and check out the most efficient chilling station in the country, the university’s Central Chilling Station No. 6.

    • Quote 2
      david kern said on March 11, 2011 at 1:02 p.m.
      your chilled water pressure broke our chilled water lines and flooded our machine rooms at pat. and etc bldgs. please lower chilled water pressure!!! (TOO MUCH CHILLED WATER SUPPLY PRESSURE)
    • Quote 2
      I said on March 5, 2011 at 6:53 p.m.
      @Mrs. T Rodriguez, these types of issues are usually handled by Facilities Services and not the Power Plant as they only generate power. Your daughter should probably try to put another service request through her RA and have Facilities Services look into her problem again. To report facility problems she or the RA can call the appropriate zone maintenance group: 232-3980.
    • Quote 2
      Mrs. T Rodriguez said on March 3, 2011 at 9:52 a.m.
      Hello, I am trying to reach someone who can help me in a situation with a problem i have. This has been going on since the beginning of the semester. My daughter has tried to fix the situation and even had the RA come to some solution but now the problem has come again and this time my daughter did get sick for 3 weeks and barely getting better. The air/heat in the room. She located in the West Jester Building Room 709. The very first complaint, one of your associates that came to look at the problem was very rude and very mean spirited that i couldn't believe that happened. Then the problem could not be solved then she got very hostile towards my daughter. Then the supervisor came into the picture. Now the room is very hot that my daughter can not get sleep,this my concern since midterms is coming up. During the cold, and the snow that Austin had recently i had the pleasure of visiting my daughter. But what i didn't expect was the very cold room that i got sick from just as soon i walked into it. The airvent is located right above the entrance and so it directs the air upon my daughter directly unto her. I cannot understand how the weather got very cold and not have the heat on. The adjoining room complaint of it being very cold, now. But then it wasn't when i visited. Please can someone help me with this problem. I believe it something else when you have to buy a fan. This should not be happening. Thank you for solving this situation.
    • Quote 2
      Cary Michael Cox said on Feb. 24, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.
      Wow, if we could only get the same results out of the Federal Government! Great job Juan and company!
    • Quote 2
      Ralph said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.
      "Mark Griffin said on Feb. 17 at 10:02 a.m. ...surely some of our university's budget shortfall could be eased by the stellar Utilities Department selling electric service to the Austin community." UT's generating plant gains much of its efficiency by being a closed campus that can use waste heat from electricity generation to heat the campus buildings. Producing additional electricity to sell to the outside world would not necessarily be as energy efficient as the current system is. Additionally, If I remember correctly UT is barred from selling energy to the grid.
    • Quote 2
      Ralph said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 12:53 p.m.
      "Kenneth H. Wax said on Feb. 17 at 7:57 a.m. Does the SAVINGS over what period of time justify the engineering and constructions COSTS? Being GREEN is not necessarily economical, intelligent, efficient, or sufficient but mostly POLITCAL CORRECT." I believe if you read the article, you'd see that the answer is yes. UT is not just being polically correct, and not all GREEN efforts are about being politically correct. They do indeed often pay for themselves. "Over $150 million in efficiency improvements were paid for by savings from reduced fuel costs."
    • Quote 2
      Tweets that mention Chillin' like it's 1977 « Know -- Topsy.com said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
      [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joel Serface, Peter Salmon. Peter Salmon said: The UT power plant uses the same amount of fuel as it did in '77, but produces 2x the power for an area 2x the size. http://bit.ly/hNKT9i [...]
    • Quote 2
      Mark Griffin said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 10:02 a.m.
      Not good enough. This isn't 1977. The whole power system needs competent third party audit, an energy management system needs to be intalled and the deans and students need feed back from that system on the true cost of service for the energy they use. This would create a real conservation culture. As an engineering graduate of The University, and having toured the power facility, I have to say that I have some real doubts about the university being in the power generation business. Those doubts were not eased when I saw major capital equipment laying idle and in pieces, extravagant claims as to efficiency (87%?!), and implications of cost-of-service numbers that would rival the best in in the world. If the claims are true, and the university was really capable of claimed generating capacity (well over double current needs and quite impossible given the status of a major generating unit out of service), then surely some of our university's budget shortfall could be eased by the stellar Utilities Department selling electric service to the Austin community. The true cost of service based on real expenditure numbers including capital employed need to be developed. The administration and deans need real data on which they can make decisions about "Chillin'".
    • Quote 2
      Kenneth H. Wax said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 7:57 a.m.
      Does the SAVINGS over what period of time justify the engineering and constructions COSTS? Being GREEN is not necessarily economical, intelligent, efficient, or sufficient but mostly POLITCAL CORRECT.
    • Quote 2
      Bob James said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 7:21 a.m.
      For this Longhorn engineer in the power industry, this is a great article. The efficiency numbers are truly amazing!!
    • Quote 2
      Roberto J. Ruiz, AIA said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.
      As a 1979 graduate from the School of Architecture and living on campus dorms- I command the UT systems for improving their mechanical systems for today's needs, keeping cost down and providing for a greener environment.
    • Quote 2
      Isabel said on Feb. 17, 2011 at 1:13 a.m.
      Well done. What starts here changes the world!
    • Quote 2
      David said on Feb. 13, 2011 at 11:35 p.m.
      HOOK 'EM! I'm so proud our school is this awesome. Great job
    • Quote 2
      monica said on Feb. 11, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.
      hi i like your school.
    • Quote 2
      kurt kern said on Feb. 11, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.
      there's water in are air lines coming from power plant please check.
    • Quote 2
      Rebecca Johnson said on Feb. 10, 2011 at 2:47 p.m.
      Very interesting. We take it for granted on campus that the power will always be on, the AC will always be working. But lots of people are working behind the scenes to make it happen. Very impressive efficiency!
    • Quote 2
      Bill Leahy said on Feb. 9, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.
      It shows what foresight can do. It's great to see UT set the example for the rest of the world.
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