UNC-CH is a national leader in the utilization of District Energy and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Systems, which is a highly efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible means of providing energy. The University’s three energy systems; Chilled Water, Cogeneration and Electric Distribution are closely interrelated and operate together for optimal efficiency.

The primary purpose of Cogeneration Systems is to generate and distribute steam which is used for heating, humidification, domestic hot water, sterilization and making distilled water. During the cogeneration process, the steam passes through a steam turbine generator and can produce up to one-third of the electricity used on campus. Electric Distribution Systems purchases the additional power needed from the local utility provider, Duke Energy. The energy provided by both sources is delivered to the University’s three substations and distributed through an intricate and complex distribution system to all buildings and roadway, parking lot and area lighting systems. Chilled Water Systems five networked central chiller plants house either electric centrifugal chillers or steam absorption chillers. These plants produce the chilled water for campus using different combinations of chillers, depending on the more cost effective energy source at the time. Both steam and chilled water are produced at strategically located central plants and then distributed to the various buildings, rather than being produced in the individual buildings. This minimizes the University’s capital costs for energy equipment per building and maximizes reliability by providing around-the-clock management and back up support. Energy Services continues to actively pursue alternative energy sources for its central plants. For a demonstration of how these energy systems interrelate, see the graphics on the How Things Work page.

Energy Services Water, Wastewater and Storm Water Systems serve as the University’s liaison to the local provider of public water and sewer services, Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA). The staff provides the engineering management of the University’s water supply and wastewater collection systems and works closely with other University departments and outside agencies in the management of the University’s storm water program, ensuring compliance with government regulations and permits.