Cleaver-Brooks Develops Plan with Expected savings of $135 Million for Wayne State University

Case Study

  • Company: Wayne State University
  • Industry: Education
  • Location: Detroit, Michigan
  • Profile: A significant increase in steam costs from the district supplier led Wayne State University’s Board of Governors to embark on a study to review options to reduce its operating costs through the Facilities Planning and Management Department.
  • Challenge: Wayne State engaged the services of DiClemente Siegel Design to conduct a feasibility study. The study focused on comparing the present and future costs of purchasing campus steam from the district supplier versus owning and operating its own boiler equipment. District steam was considered unreliable and posed a risk during the winter months.
  • Solution: Implement individual or cluster boiler plants for all university buildings to self-generate steam and hot water.
  • Results: Environmentally friendly 30 ppm low NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) burners Cost avoidance of $135 million over 30 years

The Wayne State University campus consists of 13 million square feet of buildings and facilities supported by a local district supplier. Consequently, the university was faced with rising steam costs and managing the reliability risk of district steam. In search of a solution, the university turned to the expertise of DiClemente Siegel Design to determine the best route for producing steam both now and in the future. The study concluded it would be more efficient and cost-effective to proceed with either individual or cluster boiler plants to self-generate both steam and hot water for the university buildings.

The project was released for public bid to equipment suppliers and installation contractors. Specified systems included equipment furnished by Cleaver-Brooks and bid by D.J. Conley Associates, the authorized Cleaver-Brooks representative in Troy, MI. Installation was provided by DeMaria Building Company of Detroit, MI, John E. Green of Highland Park, MI, Pipe Systems Inc. of Troy, MI, and W.J. O’Neil Inc of Livonia, MI. All parties worked together to address common issues and ensure both steam and hot water service was ready when required. The project consisted of 30 individual boiler plants receiving 69 steam and/or hot water boiler units outfitted with environmentally friendly 30 ppm low NOx burners.

Cleaver-Brooks supplied the following boiler room equipment: 
•47 firetube boilers with 30 ppm low NOx burners
•13 feedwater deaerators
•12 surge tanks
•Seven custom-made feedwater systems
•20 duplex water softeners
•20 blowdown tanks and/or separators
•67 chemical feed systems

The entire project took approximately 30 months to complete, from initial design to installation and commissioning. The university and implementation team worked together to design, build, retrofit and commission the boiler systems while school was in full session. Limited space was a major challenge for the designers. All boiler systems had to be integrated into existing buildings, which required creativity to find existing space or add expansion as needed. 

For example, the chemistry building posed some hurdles. The boilers were destined for an area below grade. Boiler installation required a crane to lower each boiler through the roof and then three stories down to the final destination. Pneumatic skids were engaged to aid in the installation. Not only were architectural installation situations considered, but careful planning was also required so classes were not disrupted.

According to Larry Fodor, director of Utilities & Energy Management at Wayne State University, “Not only was Cleaver-Brooks already an approved vendor, but we had prior positive experience with Cleaver-Brooks products and D.J. Conley’s service. The experience and relationship with D.J. Conley gave the university the comfort level it needed to proceed with them as a supplier.”  The ability to comply with stringent specification requirements while providing quality, long-lasting equipment with low operating costs and local support service and parts availability resulted in this equipment choice by Wayne State University.

After all the boilers were commissioned, D.J. Conley trained the boiler operators on proper operation and maintenance. Custom training manuals were created for the training sessions that included both classroom and hands-on boiler room training. D. J. Conley trained Wayne State operating engineers on the boiler system control packages. Most of the boilers included advanced control logic, lead-lag and draft control. Additional training was provided to ensure the university engineers understood the internal inspection process and preventive maintenance procedures.

Decentralizing the steam plant on campus is expected to save Wayne State University $135 million over the next 30 years.