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Construction Zone (News & Updates)

West utility plant upgrades to strengthen campus

Posted Monday, April 6, 2015

As part of the ongoing initiative to strengthen UTMB’s infrastructure, Business Operations and Facilities recently began a major upgrade to the Galveston campus’ west utility plant. The upgrades are part of the $289 million district heating and cooling project, set to improve the campus’ storm resilience.

“We’re connecting the existing plant to the new underground district heating and cooling system and converting the existing steam heating system to a hot water system,” said Steven LeBlanc, assistant vice president for Facility Risk Management.

“A hot water heating system will allow us to recover more quickly from a storm,” said LeBlanc.

To complete the updgrades the west utility plant was shut down on March 30. The shutdown was scheduled to last up to two weeks, however BOF finished ahead of schedule on April 6. During the shutdown, the campus' central utility plant provided all of the necessary heating and cooling service, and hot and cold water to Galveston campus facilities.

Under normal conditions, the campus operates on both the central and west plants. Although the shutdown was not expected to cause any interruptions to normal operations, all Galveston campus departments/units were advised to review and be prepared to follow their business continuity plans in the event of a malfunction. Due to careful planning and preparation, there were no adverse effects on business operations during the shutdown.

Now that the shutdown is complete, BOF will continue to upgrade the west utility plant by elevating the mechanical equipment to prevent flooding and a flood wall will be constructed around the plant. An east utility plant is also being added to the campus for redundancy.

“The district heating and cooling project is the reason for many of the road closures, but it is well worth it,” said LeBlanc. “The end goal is to keep the campus operational in the event of a storm.”