|History of the Campuses and Buildings of the University of Rochester|
|United States Hotel||Prince Street Campus||Eastman School of Music||Medical Center||River Campus||Mid-Campus||South Campus||Mt. Hope Campus||Graduate, Family and Veteran Housing||Central Utilities||Other Off-Site Buildings|
|University of Rochester President Rush Rhees lighting the first
boiler in the Central Utility Plant, November 10, 1924.
(Rush Rhees Library Rare Books, Special Collection and Preservation)
The University of Rochester built a new heating plant to supply steam to a new hospital and medical school constructed along Elmwood Avenue in the 1920s.
In planning for the new Medical Center and River Campus, it was decided that it would make its own steam and buy electricity from RG&E. The heating plant was located next to Rochester Gas & Electric Corporation (RG&E) substation 33, which had been built in 1907 to interconnect with the new transmission lines of the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company from Niagara Falls. This new substation provided 11,000 Volt power for the electrification of the Erie Railway and and 4,160 Volt power to the Medical Center and River Campus. An AC/DC converter was also installed in the heating plant to supply DC current to equipment in the Medical Center.
This experience likely led to the University connecting all of its buildings on the Prince Street Campus into a single electric meter in 1927, greatly reducing electric costs for that campus
The 1966 Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory on South Campus was supplied from a 34,500 Volt circuit from Station 33, which also served the 1977 Laboratory for Laser Energetics through a 34.5/11.5kV transformer.
Around 1967 the University started buying power from RG&E at the lower cost 11,500 Volt rate to supply the new Science and Engineering buildings on River Campus. A large new substation was also built in 1969 next to the Supplies and Accounts building in the Medical Center to support the new S-Wing and Strong Memorial Hospital. This substation also included two new transformers that supplied the existing 4,160 Volt network. In 1989, the University's energy manager recommended installation of two new transformers at the Central Utilities Plan to supply the older River Campus buildings, allowing abandonment of the higher cost RG&E 4,160 Volt service.
RG&E advised the University around 2005 that it had reached the limit of available 11,550 Volt power from Station 33. Plans to build a new Mid-Campus chiller plant and Clinical Translational Sciences Building were modified to include construction of a new 34,500/11,500 Volt substation in a brick enclosure south of the chiller plant that tapped into the same circuit serving the South Campus buildings. This station also supplied the new Golisano Children's Hospital.
Planning to meet the future electric needs of the growing campus resulted in a plan to built a new 115,000 Volt substation (now known as 710) on South Campus adjacent to the RG&E transmission lines. This station opened in 2015 and initially replaced the 34.5 kV Mid-Campus Substation. In April 2021 the Central Utilities Plant electric system was connected to this substation, eliminating that facility's connections to Station 33. This new system provides power to all contiguous buildings except the Alumni and Advancement Center, Graduate Living Center, Ronald McDonald House, Child Care Center, Goler House, Eastman Dental, and 612 Wilson Boulevard. Connecting these buildings would reduce their RG&E connection charges, but each would require analysis of the connection cost and savings to see if this was economical.
The University entered into several contracts with RG&E in the 1990s to duplicate the savings that would have accrued from a proposed cogeneration unit at the Central Utilities Plant. The University became a direct customer of the New York Independent System operator in 2001, giving it the ability to buy power directly from the grid. After the final RG&E contract expired in 2003, the University's energy manager recommended entering into a two-year Contract for Differences (CfD) with a regional merchant power plant to stabilize its electric costs. This arrangement saved the University $5,379,730 over a 24-month period.
Several studies, starting in the early 1930s, have recommended the adoption of combined heat and power, or cogeneration, to increase the efficiency of the heating plant. These will be summarized here, along with a description of the 2005 cogeneration project that was adopted.
A 1995 attempt to implement steam turbine cogeneration was stymied because the director of Central Utilities (who had been manager of the Kodak Park Power Plants) did not understand the thermodynamics of cogeneration.
After the cogeneration
plant came on line in 2008, several opportunities have been missed to to
increase the plant's efficiency at little or no cost by reducing the hot
water system return temperature. This is turn would have reduced the
peak hot water sendout temperature.
Steam was provided by coal fired boilers until 1997, when the plant converted to natural gas. A low-temperature hot water distribution system was built as part of the 2005 cogeneration project.
The first air conditioning at the University was a 164-ton Carrier electric centrifugal chiller installed in the Eastman Theatre in 1929. Air conditioning on the River Campus was first produced by a Carrier single-effect absorption chiller installed in 1963 in the Administration building. This chiller also served the new Hopeman Hall and probably also served the Interfaith Chapel. A similar unit was included in the 1962 addition to Bausch & Lomb Hall that also supplied chilled water to Hoyt Auditorium. Steam-driven centrifugal chillers were installed in a plant addition in 1967 to serve the Medical Center and River Campus, and a separate chiller plant with electric centrifugal chillers were built in 2008 and expanded in 2013.
The University buys water from the City of Rochester and Monroe County Water Authority.
|Evolution of the Plant (click on images for larger picture)|
|1925||1931 with relocated Elmwood Avenue||1963 with lowered chimney||1968 with boiler and chiller plant additions||1992 with baghouse and toppled stack
(courtesy of Jim Mahoney)
|2018 with cogeneration plant and cooling towers|
1906 "Transmission Line from Niagara Falls to Syracuse," by Orrin E. Dunlap, Western Elecrrician 38(8):151-152 (February 24, 1906)
1907 "The Transmission Plant of the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company," by Ralph D. Mershon, Proceedings of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers 28(2):1367-1407 (June 26, 1907) | also here |
1907 "Electrification of the Rochester Division of the Erie Railroad," by W. N. Smith, Electric Railway Review 18(15):428-436 (October 12, 1907)
and Transformer Stations of the Rochester Railway & Light Company,"
Electric Railway Journal 33(8):328-330 (February 20, 1909)
Description of Station No. 33.
1924 "Ceremony Attends Lighting of Medical School Fires," Democrat and Chronicle, November 11, 1924, Page 27.
1925 "Fuel Consumption Measured by Engineering Department," Campus, October 23, 1925, Page 7.
1926 "University of Rochester Installs New Heating Plant," by J. W. Gavett, Jr., Power 64(6):192-194 (August 10, 1926)
1926 "University of Rochester installs new heating plant - Discussion," by A. L. Westcott, Power 64:565 (October 12, 1926)
Gas & Electric News & Year Book, February, 1928
Page 8: Picture of Station 33 showing new transformers to step down 110,000 volts to 11,000 volts.
Talks to Engineers Club," Campus, March 2, 1928, Page 4.
Development of the power house on the new campus. He said that two new boilers and stokers have been ordered to help in heating the new college buildings. At present, three boilers are heating the Medical School and hospital.
Arrows Will Point to City Airport," Democrat and Chronicle,
May 27, 1931, Page 17.
The chimney at the power plant of the University of Rochester near Elmwood Avenue has been pained a brilliant chrome yellow, supposed to be one of the most visible colors from the sky. Black squares painted on the yellow will further distinguish it.
1933 A study of purchased power vs self-generated power at the Elmwood avenue plant of the University of Rochester, by Gerald P. Troy. Master of Science Thesis, University of Rochester.
First Decade 1926-1936
Page 92: The First Decade in Brief (January 4, 1926 to December 1, 1935)
Medical Center uses per year approximately 5,500 tons of coal to supply: over 100,000,000 pounds of steam; approximately 5,500,000 cubic feet of gas; nearly 2,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity; approximately l0,000,000 cubic feet of water.
1938 The economic feasibility of the generation of electrical energy by the University of Rochester, by Robert V. Adair
Wreck Near UR Power Plant, January 21, 1940 | picture
#2 | Picture
#3 | Picture
| The mangled remains of a coal car and a passenger car following a head-on train collision on the Lehigh Valley tracks near the power plant on the University of Rochester River Campus. Mounds of coal lie on the embankment following the head-on collision of a southbound coal train and a northbound passenger unit on the Lehigh Valley tracks. 100 feet south of River Boulevard near the University of Rochester River Campus power plant.
1945 "Fuel Shortage Strikes Campus," Campus, February 9, 1945, Page 3.
1946 "Coal Supplies
Short," The Campus, November 22, 1946, Page 4.
The University uses 90 tons of coal a day, 20 on Prince St., and 70 on the River Campus
1951 "Writer Tells About Tunnels, Power Plant, and Smokestack," by George Weinhold, Campus Times, March 9, 1951, Page 3. | part 2 |
Pays: Landmark Lit," Campus (September 24, 1954), Page
Three double-flashing lights now adorn the top of the 195 foot smokestack at the University Heating Plant.
Heating Plant Illustrates Mechanical Running of River Campus," Campus
Times, March 6, 1956, Page 5.
16,000 tons of coal each year. Five boilers ranging from 450 to 700 h.p.
and Construction Period of the School and Hospitals 1921-1925.
bu George H. Whipple, M.D.| pdf |
Page 10: It also was decided to place the power plant between the University's new River Campus and the Medical School and Hospital area, where it could be serviced by the Lehigh Valley Railroad with considerable advantage in the delivery of coal. After discussion and comparison of prices, it was thought best to build this plant for coal fuel rather than to purchase heat from the Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation. Without doubt, that was a sound decision. It was decided to purchase electricity from the utility corporation rather than to manufacture it.
Offers Aid On UR Chimney," Democrat and Chronicle, June 8,
1961, Page 13.
FAA to pay half the cost of lowering the UR smoke stack 67 feet.
Constructions Flourish on River Campus Grounds," Campus Times,
September 25, 1962, Page 2.
Of much interest to the student automobile owner is the sidewalk just completed from the River Campus to the Medical Center and Parking Lot. Beginning behind the Cyclotron the paved path leads across the railroad tracks and out to Elmwood Avenue. The path will be lighted. The days of trekking through the mud in the pitch-black railroad-track dark in December and snow are over.
Speaks at Cabinet," Campus Times, November 9, 1962, Page 1.
The bulldozers in front of the Administration Building are part of a project to install a central air conditioning unit on campus.
1964 "Steam Heat," University Record 4(2):4-5 (February 1964)
1965 "SMH Mobilizes,
Averts Disaster," University Record. 5(10):6 (November 1965)
A month after Strong Memorial Hospital’s disaster drill (see center spread), a real crisis suddenly struck. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Rochester along with the whole Northeast was plunged into blackness from a massive electrical power failure.
Among the first fearful thoughts that enter a person’s mind in such a situation is, “What about the hospitals? What will they do?”
1966 "Chilled Water Plant
Being Built," University Record 4(9):1, 3 (October 1966)
A chilled water plant, which will allow eventual air-conditioning of many of the buildings at the Medical Center and on the River Campus, will soon be constructed next to the present University Heating Plant.
This is the reason for all the digging—and dust—currently to be seen just east of the Lattimore Road-Elmwood Avenue intersection, west of the AEP annex.
Two additions will be made to the Heating Plant—one for the chilled water facility, the other to increase the capacity of the present steam heating facilities and electrical distribution center there.
“This is all being done to insure continuity of utilities to the River Campus and Medical Center as they expand,” said chief electrician Fred Curtis. “Without the new facilities, there could be no expansion.”
According to James Dungan, asst, superintendent of Physical Plant for engineering, the Heating Plant’s load is expected to double over the next 10 years.
He estimated that the Heating Plant additions and about 60 per cent of the chilled water lines would be completed within the next 12 months. It will take an estimated five years to complete the chilled water lines to all parts of the two campuses.
Dungan pointed out that the Heating Plant is centrally located, both to the River Campus and the Medical Center as well as to the land which the city is selling to the University in Genesee Valley Park.
The main building construction is being done by A. W. Hopeman and Sons, with electrical work by Dwyer Electric Co. and plumbing and piping work by Howe and Bassett Co.
“The area around the Heating Plant is a maze of utility lines,” said Curtis. “It’s the most dense utility area of the University— a focal point for the distribution of all utilities.”
The electric system, which was originally built in the mid-20’s, is operating at about 80 percent of capacity, “higher than we’d like it to be,” he said. “You approach the capacity of your system with extreme caution.”
Pedestrians are asked not to walk through the construction area, but instead to take one of the following alternate routes between the Medical Center and the River Campus:
(a) around the east end of the AEP building;
(b) through the AEP building (before 6 p.m., when it is locked); or
(c) through the tunnel from O-Wing basement in the Medical Center to the back of the AEP building.
Similar construction work can also be seen behind Rush Rhees Library. A steam line is being relocated from one side of Library Road to the other, to facilitate construction of the new library addition.
1966 "Modernization of UR's Heating Plant To Include Air-Conditioning System," Campus Times, December 16, 1966, Page 2.
of Rochester," District Heating 52(3):116 (Winter 1967)
Excavation has begun for the expansion and modernization of the University of Rochester's heating plant and electrical distribution facilities and the construction of a chilled water plant. It is estimated the work will cost about $6.5 million.
The chilled water plant to be built next to the present heating plant will provide 10,500 tons of refrigeration initially. It eventually will permit central air-conditioning to many of the new and some existing buildings on the River Campus and Medical Center.
The addition to the heating plant will include a boiler capable of producing 150,000 lb of steam per hr. The University's present largest boiler can produce 100,000 lb per hr.
James O. Dungan, Assistant Superintendent, Physical Plant Engineering, reported the present heating plant's load is expected to double over the next ten years. He estimates the heating plant additions and about 60 per cent of the chilled water lines will be finished in a year.
Cooler Up Here," Democrat and Chronicle, June 16, 1967, Page
Construction of pumping station at Elmwood Avenue and River Boulevard.
1967 "Retirement for John
Eichner," University Record 7(10):7 (November 1967)
The chilled water plant is nearing completion and a number of University facilities are already served by it.
Times, April 26, 1968, Page 3.
The pumphouse that will eventually supply an air cooling service to a large part of the University including the medical center and the new library has reached completion. The unit it presently being used to supply cool water to parts of the medical center.
1970 "Big Power In Small
Structure," University Record 10(3):1 (March 1970)
A small, million-dollar structure on Elmwood Avenue, built last year, has recently begun earning its keep as electric power substation for the UR Medical Center.
The substation, surrounded by a brick wall “for aesthetic purposes”, was built to handle the increased voltage needed for an expanding Medical Center and the electrical equipment constantly being added to the hospital and laboratories.
Power for the Medical Center formerly came through the substations in the University Heating Plant. Now, however, in four, different steps, the power is being transferred to the new substation to be fed into the Medical Center.
“There is enough power in that substation to supply most of the city of Spencerport,” says Fred A. Curtis. Curtis is chief university electrician and associate superintendent of the River Campus Physical Plant. He was in on the preliminary planning for the substation in mid-1967 when it was realized that the existing power supplies would not be sufficient for the planned growth of the Medical Center The electricity is routed through the Medical Center in a loop. Power leaves the substation on two sides, arches around the Medical Center in a series of switches and branchoffs, and meets in an open spot somewhere near the front of the hospital. If a failure occurs somewhere along the radial line, power can be switched on right up to each side of the trouble and only a small area will be without electricity.
The substation is expected to meet the electric needs of the Medical Center and the new Strong Memorial Hospital for several years.
According to Curtis, the hospital will never be without power longer than it takes to find trouble and fix it. The time involved in locating problems is reduced considerably by using the radial system.
The actual switching of the power from the Heating Plant substation to the new substation requires the help of about four men, but Curtis says he thinks it is important for anyone who has anything to do with the system to know as much about it as possible. He has been running kind of an informal training program on the substation and its operation for several weeks.
The River Campus is also being equipped with a radial electric system, but it is not yet completed. There will be four complete circuits on the River Campus
1970 "UR Heating, Steam - Guilty of Pollution," by Martha Goetsch, Campus Times, April 21, 1970, Page 1. | part 2 |
Finances Pose Serious Problems," Campus Times, November 15,
1971, Page 1.
Last year the government ordered the UR to switch to a lower-pollutant, but higher-priced type of coal which is ussed in the power plant. The added cost is making is increasingly difficult to stay within the 1971-72 budget.
1972 "Power Plant Aims to Meet Pollution Goals," by Joel Beckman, Campus Times, December 11, 1972, Page 1.
Agency Reviews UR Water-Use Appeal," Campus Times, February
7, 1973, Page 1.
Pure waters sewer charges.
Being Built," Currents, August 7, 1973.
Construction of a raised path behind the Heating Plant is scheduled to start this week. The new path will provide an improved pedestrian walkway for faculty, staff, and students between the River Campus and Medical Center.
During the construction period, pedestrians will be able to use the general area with caution; there will be some inconvenience to persons parking in the vicinity. It is expected that the project will be completed in about a week.
1973 "UR Acts to Conserve Energy," Campus Times, November 14, 1973, Page 1.
1974 "University Continues Efforts To Conserve Fuel Supplies," University Record 14(9):6 (October 1974)
Responds to Rate Hike," Campus Times, October 16, 1974, Page
Recent rate increase of 10 percent for electricity.
1974 "UR Faces Energy Crisis, Plans Fuel Conservation," Campus Times, October 22, 1974, Page 1.
1975 "Promotions," University
Record 15(1):3 (January 1975)
Promotions - William H. Nichols, assistant chief engineer, Central Utilities Plant
1975 "UR Increases Energy Cutbacks," Campus Times, January 27, 1975, Page 1. | Part 2 |
Cuts Generate Savings," Campus Times, September 16, 1975,
Another improvement planned is the installation of a computerized temperature control system which should be completed by January 1976.
each his farthest star: The University of Rochester Medical
Center -1925-1975, edited by Edward C. Atwater and John
Page 59: Among the nonclinical departments, three were equipped early-anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology. Their staffs instructed medical students in 1925-26. These departments had their own problems with lighting, fume hoods, and D.C. current. In downtown Rochester only D.C. was available, and much purchasable equipment was designed for D.C. use. In the Medical School both A.C. and D.C. were needed, and the latter was generated in the new University power plant.
Reported Acceptable Under Conservation Standards," Campus Times,
April 5, 1976, Page 3
James Dungan, superintendent of the physical plant.
of the University of Rochester, 1850-1962, by Arthur J.
May. Expanded edition with notes
Chapter 20, Shaping the Medical Center
For the Medical Center, the U. of R. purchased in 1922 parcels of land south of Oak Hill, totaling about ninety-seven acres. This property consisted of the Crittenden (or Castleton) tract, mostly flat farmland, and a tree nursery of the Ellwanger and Barry firm. To the east, the University acreage extended almost to Mount Hope Avenue, on which a few homes stood, and to the south as far as the Barge Canal. Elmwood Avenue, an unsurfaced roadway, separated the property from Oak Hill, as did a branch of the Lehigh Valley railway over which building materials and later on fuel for heating purposes could be economically transported.
Chapter 21, Sons of Aesculapius
Four structures had to be planned: the central building for the School and the Strong and Municipal hospitals, a heating plant, a residential hall for nurses, and living facilities for about sixty-five internes and residents. It was decided that this last unit should occupy a section facing Elmwood Avenue, while the main complex would front on a new thoroughfare, eventually called Crittenden Boulevard, and the nurses home would be laid out to the south of this roadway. The heating plant, which would supply the needs of the Medical Center and of a contemplated Men's College on Oak Hill, would be strategically located directly north of Elmwood Avenue.
Chapter 33, The First Century Ends
Expansion of physical properties made (1948) necessary a big increase in the capacity of the heating plant and major extensions of the - electrical network.
Chapter 37, In Pursuit of Excellence
Governmental agencies paid (1961) for the lowering of the smokestack on the University power plant, which stood in the flight path to and from the Rochester airport, and for installation of safety lighting atop Rhees Library tower. Space rights accorded to the Federal Aviation Agency prohibited construction on the River Campus that might possibly be an obstacle to planes.
1978 "A Student's Guide to the Steam Tunnels," Campus Times, October 4, 1978, Page 4. | Part 2 | Part 3 |
1974 "A Careful Eye on Smoke Emission," Currents, December 8, 1978, Page 1.
Plant Office Serves Three Areas," Campus Times, March 2,
1981, Page 1 | Part
Occupying a 19th century house on Mt. Hope Avenue. Richard Susat, director of the University Plant.
Assistant Director for Energy Conservation, a mechanical engineer and energy conservation specialist, runs the newest arm of the office, energy efficiency.
The budget for the Physical Plant is $12 million.
Controls Installed," Campus Times, October 19, 1982, Page 1
A fabric baghouse was built on the roof of the new boiler house to reduce visible pollution, but it never worked and was removed in 1997. The baghouse was so heavy that it buckled the brick wall on the south side of the plant, which had to be reinforced with metal plates which can still be seen.
1985 "Energy plan is
cutting costs," Currents, June 14, 1985, Page 1.
The University’s energy conservation effort announced last fall has begun to show results. River Campus heat consumption from November 1984 to April 5 of this year was 11.3 percent lower than the year before.
According to Robert Rouzer, director of Wilson Commons/student activities, who serves as River Campus energy coordinator, a variety of efforts has been undertaken to attack the waste of energy resources. “The goal,” Rouzer said, “is to reduce by 1988 the consumption of energy to 55 percent of the amount used in 1972-73. This goal is realistic based upon the experiences of similar institutions.”
Reduction of electrical consumption is a major goal of the conservation effort. “For many years, in spite of efforts to reduce electrical energy use, the University has experienced a 3 percent increase in use each year,” Rouzer said. “A comparison of electrical use for this winter to last winter shows that Medical Center use increased by only 0.2 percent while River Campus consumption decreased by 7.2 percent. Since electricity costs the University $6 million per year, reductions of electrical use reap large benefits.
“A number of system modifications are planned or under way and, with the cooperation of everyone in the University community, these improvements will help to further reduce energy consumption.” Rouzer said.
“Prompt reporting of temperature extremes, turning off lights and equipment when they are not in use, and sharing conservation ideas are ways that everyone can contribute to the reduction of the University energy bill.”
1989 "UR installing energy management system to cut costs of heating and lighting," Campus Times, November 9, 1989, Page 1 | Part 2 |
1991 "Power plant deal may save UR $3.7 million," Campus Times, February 28, 1991, Page 2.
1994 "Heat of Competition flaring up at RG&E," Democrat and Chronicle, April 21, 1994, Page 1. | Part 2 |
1995 "District Energy: More Than 70 Years at University of Rochester," by Bill Nichols and Morris A. Pierce, District Heating 81(2):5-8 (Fourth Quarter 1995)
Department Sues New York's Rochester Gas & Electric Co. over
Anticompetitive Agreement with the University of Rochester, June 24,
Agreement Keeps Customers from Receiving Low-Cost Electricity
1997 "UR Fuel Switch ups RG&E Bill," by J. Leslie Sopko, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, October 2, 1997, Page 12D. | Part 2 |
U.S. suit settled," by Mark Reilly, Rochester Democrat and
Chronicle, December 20, 1997, Page 12D.
The utility says a simple compromise did it; the Justice Department disagrees.
Gas & Electric Agrees to Settle Antitrust Suit, March 4, 1998.
The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with Rochester Gas & Electric Company (RG&E) that will allow the University of Rochester to produce and sell low cost electricity in competition with RG&E.
1998 "The Heat is On," by Jason Hammersla, Campus Times, March 26, 1998, Page 11. | part 2 |
1998 The last coal from the stockpile was burned in July.
2000 Natural Gas
2001 Contract for Differences
2004 "Cogeneration finally underway," by Brielle Welzer, Campus Times, October 7, 2004, Page 3. | part 2 |
2007 "From Steam to Hot Water and CHP: University of Rochester Converts," by Morris A. Pierce, District Energy 93(3):19-22 (Third Quarter 2007)
years of district cooling and beyond," District Energy
102(1):7-12 (First Quarter 2016)
Continuous redundancy and efficiency improvements are a hallmark of the University of Rochester’s chilled-water
2016 Integration of 8,000 Additional Tons with an Existing Chilled Water System at the University of Rochester, International District Energy Association, February 10, 2016
2017 Equipment Upgrades in a Space-Constrained Plant: University of Rochester Boiler Installation
2018 Hot Water Conversion Lessons Learned, International District Energy Association, March 6, 2018
2018 From steam to hot water
and Energy Management Academic Collaboration Guide, Fall 2020
This document contains information about the plant, including schematics of the plant and distribution systems.
2021 On April 16-20, 2021 electric loads on the River Campus and Medical Center were transferred from Station 33 to the new Station 710. A few buildings continue to be served from Station 33.
2021 University of Rochester's Greenhouse Gas Emissions History, April 13, 2021. Includes some history and old videos
© 2021 Morris A. Pierce