Replacing a 60-year-old facility, Tufts’ new Central Energy Plant (CEP) is now up and running on Boston Avenue. It is projected to slash campus energy costs by about 20 percent while lighting, heating, and cooling university buildings in Medford and Somerville.
The CEP features an energy-efficient system of combustion engines, generators, and chillers, which are visible to passersby through a multistory glass wall. The team behind the design and construction hopes the glass façade will educate the Tufts community about important sustainability issues and increase environmental awareness on campus.
Power: Fueled by natural gas, the CEP uses advanced cogeneration technology to produce energy as well as steam. Thanks to an enormous internal combustion engine and generator, the plant can yield four megawatts of electricity—enough to power approximately 52 Tufts buildings, covering 80–90 percent of the electrical requirements of the Medford/Somerville campus.
Heat: Unlike traditional power plants, the CEP is designed to recapture the heat that is thrown off while producing electricity. The heat recovery steam generator harnesses the 900-degree exhaust and uses it to help heat 35 academic and residence buildings. Thanks to this process and other system efficiencies, the new plant reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent.
Chill: Additional waste heat produced by the cogeneration system is redirected to an absorption chiller, where it helps chill water that is used to cool campus buildings—including Tisch Library and the Science and Engineering Complex (SEC)—in warm months. Sustainable, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly, the Central Energy Plant is a powerful addition to campus.