Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Revisiting the Campus Power Dilemma: A Case Study: The University of Michigan-Led Consortia of U.S. Colleges and Universities Engaged in Assertive Advocacy in International Infrastructure Standards Will Support Our Industry's Claim to Excellence and Contribute Mightily to the Innovation Necessary for Cities of the Future

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Revisiting the Campus Power Dilemma: A Case Study: The University of Michigan-Led Consortia of U.S. Colleges and Universities Engaged in Assertive Advocacy in International Infrastructure Standards Will Support Our Industry's Claim to Excellence and Contribute Mightily to the Innovation Necessary for Cities of the Future

Article excerpt

FOREWORD

THE STEWARDS OF CAMPUS FACILITIES inherit a long conversation about striking the optimal solution among the competing requirements of safety, economy, and sustainability. In this article, we address the campus electrical power problem by bringing to light technical and financial considerations that we hope will contribute to national emissions-reductions ambitions. The University of Michigan-led consortia of U.S. colleges and universities engaged in assertive advocacy in the United States and the development of international infrastructure standards will support our industry's claim to excellence and contribute mightily to the innovation necessary in the future.

A NEW LOOK AT BACKUP POWER

Campus planners should make electrical engineers work a little harder before they approve another on-site generator. The familiar one-generator-per-building model for backup power needs to be revisited--not only in light of grim construction budgets and available space concerns but also because of fortuitous movement and new subtleties in the technical standards that govern backup power. A solution that nets an increase in overall backup power availability at a lower total cost of ownership and with less pollution is possible using approaches that more fully integrate district energy with independent perimeter utility sources, improved switching architectures, longer feeder runouts in regional backup power regimes, and loading generators.

The familiar one-generator-per-building model for backup power needs to be revisited.

For at least 50 years building codes and standards have had the practical effect of over-capitalizing life safety backup power at the expense of the business continuity power needed to recover from major regional disruptions such as the August 14, 2003, blackout in the United States or the more recent forced outages at the University of California, Berkeley. The case is proved by comparing frequency and duration data from the run-time of life safety generators at the end of their life cycle. Life safety generators dedicated to the purpose of assuring safe egress from a building are almost never used while power outages occur with significantly greater frequency and duration. There ought to be broader discussion in terms of reconciling the competing requirements of sustainability and safety in backup power systems with respect to life and property protection.

Understanding how these backup power systems protect life and property first requires dealing with the Babylonian confusion that surrounds the concept of backup power-in this article, a term of art that we use to describe both the mission of power systems engineered for life safety (or emergency power) and power systems engineered for the protection of property (or standby power). Owners are typically confused by the way architects (governed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suite of standards referenced in local building codes) differ from electrical engineers (governed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) suite of standards) in their application of backup power concepts. Distinguishing between emergency and standby systems is essential because these systems require separate control and delivery paths.

The word "mission" is used in order to expand the vocabulary surrounding backup power systems and to move the discussion of backup power into the quantitative realm (IEEE Std 493[TM]-2007--Recommended Practice for the Design of Reliable Industrial & Commercial Power Systems).

DOING THE MATH

The University of Michigan has led the nation in driving quantitative methods of backup power system analysis into the NFPA suite so that sensitivity analyses can be applied to the complex and expensive array of choices that architects, engineers, and planners must make for campus power systems (Anthony et al. 2011). One- or two-variable decisions can usually be made using intuition, experience, and precedent. …

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