For more than a century, a major part of McGill University’s Macdonald Campus has been heated with steam produced on-site and distributed by energy-consuming installations. The time had come for an update, one based on efficiency and energy diversification.

Goodbye steam!

The first buildings on the campus opened in 1907, including a steam plant, at the forefront of modernity at the time. “Over the years, the system had become increasingly inefficient. First, new buildings were built on the campus, farther from the plant, and this distance led to losses in energy. Later, some parts of the network had reached the end of their useful life, especially the tunnels, whose critical condition threatened the integrity of the steam distribution system,” says Jérôme Conraud, Energy Manager, Installations and Ancillary Services at McGill University.

Rather than simply modernize the heating, the university completely renovated all the buildings, based on in-depth audits. The steam was replaced by a low-temperature warm water network that needs less energy. Production was relocated near the users to reduce losses, and a new thermal power plant and a satellite boiler room were built.

Various consumption-reduction measures were implemented. For example, a variable air volume ventilation system now adapts the heating to the actual occupation of each room. Heat recovery systems were installed on the appliances that generated the most heat. And controls were mostly computerized, to the great pleasure of employees.
for the first year
toward the implementation of energy efficiency measures
Altogether, the measures affected 50,000 m² of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science’s premises, which occupy 60% of the campus. Result: about $200,000 was saved in the first year, according to Jérôme Conraud. “But improvements are continuing and we are going to save more as we optimize the configuration,” he says.

“Even without the grants, we would have opted for natural gas since, based on a detailed study of the various scenarios, a natural gas low-temperature warm water network was shown to be the most logical solution. Natural gas is affordable and it can easily be connected to renewable sources like solar or geothermal energy, which we are planning to develop in the future,” he added.

“Gaz Métro assisted us a lot in this project, both the Sales Team for help in optimizing our accounts management, and the DATECH Group for their technical support and for seeking grants.”

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Natural gas was shown to be the most logical solution.

Jérôme Conraud, Energy Manager, Installations and Ancillary Services, McGill University