District Energy System at Ford Utilities
UNM Facilities Management (FM) has one of the most sophisticated utility plants of all the universities in the country. The Ford Utilities Center can generate 219,000 pounds per hour of steam, 4,000 tons of chilled water, 14 megawatts of electricity, and enough compressed air for the campus. The FM Utilities Division also operates two remote chilled water plants - the Lomas Chilled Water Plant and the HSC Chilled Water Plant. These facilities have a combined chilled water capacity of 8,300 tons.
The fourth location is the Campus Utility Plant, which can generate 24,000 pounds per hour of steam, and 1,000 tons of chilled water. The upgrades save students and taxpayers approximately $2.5 million annually and reduces UNM's direct carbon footprint by 39% annually as compared to staying with the municipal power provider (PNM).
In the early 2000s, UNM FM Utilities conducted a massive upgrade to the Ford Utilities Center. The project included installation of natural gas cogeneration units to become more energy independent and accommodate the inevitable campus growth in a cost effective and energy efficient manner. UNM now has its own District Energy System and produces most of the power needed on campus.
- The upgrades save students and taxpayers approximately $2.5 million annually and reduces UNM's direct carbon footprint by 39% annually as compared to staying with the municipal power provider (PNM).
- This project earned UNM a 2008 Energy Star Award from the EPA. This award is given to projects for “efficiency and fuel savings and making outstanding contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation.”
Ford Utilities Center has two cogeneration units (combined heat and power) that help produce 12 megawatts of electricity. Then the wasted heat gets captured and repurposed for heating the main and north campus buildings.
According to epa.gov, by capturing wasted heat, cogeneration systems can achieve 60% to 80% efficiency, while the average fossil fueled power plants in America only achieve an average of 33% efficiency. This helps UNM significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.