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13 facts about the Powerhouse Energy Campus

April 16, 2015
By Kortny Rolston

Eighteen months after construction started to expand the Colorado State University Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, the project is now complete. The $18.5 million, 65,000-square-foot addition has transformed the 430 N. College Ave. site into the CSU Powerhouse Energy Campus.

<em>Image courtesy of The Neenan Company</em>

Check out more photos on Flickr.

  1. The CSU Powerhouse Energy Campus is the name of the University’s expanded research facility on North College Avenue. The campus includes the longtime CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Lab and a new 65,000-square-foot addition.
     
  2. The original building was constructed in 1936 and served as a coal-fired power plant for the city of Fort Collins. In the early 1990s, CSU turned it into the Engines and Energy Conversion Lab. The Powerhouse project also included renovating the original building.The old city of Fort Collins coal-fired  power plant.
     
  3. The 65,000-square-foot Powerhouse addition is expected to certify at LEED Platinum, the highest designation given by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a major feat for a building with multiple laboratories, which tend to use a lot of power and water.
     
  4. CSU and The Neenan Company, which designed the addition and oversaw construction, took great care to preserve the historic look of the old plant - and maximize research.  The old coal hopper will be replaced with a greenhouse in which researchers can grow biofuel feedstocks. The smokestacks will house four vertical-axis wind turbines.  The old coal hopper will be replaced with a greenhouse in which researchers can grow biofuel feedstocks.
     
  5. Researchers also are installing an algae photobioreactor system on a Powerhouse roof for larger scale cultivation of biofuel feedstocks.
     
  6. The Energy Institute at Colorado State University, which coordinates energy-related research across campus, is headquartered at the Powerhouse Energy Campus. Thirteen campus-wide research centers are affiliated with the Institute.
     
  7. Computer modeling predicts the Powerhouse will achieve approximately 50 percent to 55 percent energy savings when compared to other commercial/industrial buildings – well above the 48 percent required to meet LEED Platinum status.The Powerhouse does not contain a traditional air conditioning system. Instead, the building is cooled by a 26-mile network of tubing that circulates chilled water.
     
  8. The current array of rooftop solar panels generates 20 kilowatts of electricity, which will help power the building.  Additional panels will be installed this summer and will produce another 25 kilowatts of power.
     
  9. The Powerhouse does not contain a traditional air conditioning system. Instead, the building is cooled by a 26-mile network of tubing that circulates chilled water throughout the structure and deep into the caisson foundations.  The system relies on Colorado’s cool nightly temperatures to chill the water.
     
  10. The building’s control system will predict how much radiant floor slabs need to be heated or cooled based on weather forecasting.
     
  11. The metal panels on the outside of the addition are the same as what is used in commercial freezer systems. The pre-finished, interlocking panels help prevent air leaking from the building.
     
  12. The building’s fiberglass window frames and glass pane have an R-value of 7.5, more than two times higher than the energy efficiency rating of conventional aluminum window frame systems.
     
  13. The entire building is outfitted with customized low-voltage LED lights that attach to ceiling with magnets. Heat from the lights is absorbed by the floor slabs and is transferred back into the system.