Somehow UW CSE’s advancement officer Karen Howard Leikin managed to wangle a 2-hour tour of UW’s power plant and steam tunnels for CSE alums Kirk Glerum and Don Hacherl. Karen accompanied, along with UW CSE’s Ed Lazowska.
There’s no way to describe how cool this was! (Well, truth be told, it was actually pretty hot …)
The central power plant supplies steam heat, chilled water air conditioning, compressed air, and emergency power to 174 buildings on the the 643-acre UW main campus and medical center through 8 miles of tunnels.
Five natural gas boilers (with fuel oil backup) provide steam. UW consumes about 55 megawatts of electrical power; 10% of this is provided by a steam turbine generator (the main goal of which is to provide uninterruptible power for the power plant itself), the rest is purchased from utilities. There are 5 2-megawatt diesel backup generators to provide emergency power to other critical parts of campus.
Mark Kirschenbaum, Assistant Director of Campus Utilities, was a wonderful tour guide; Mark is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and spent a number of years dealing with shipboard boilers before joining UW 18 years ago.
Additional photos here.