Heat Plant

Submitted by JoAnn M. Lawrence
heat plant

Phone: (413) 542-2261
Fax: (413) 542-5789
PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002-5000

The Heating Plant is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the campus steam plant and the steam distribution system. The steam generation facilities supply steam for heating, absorption air conditioning, hot water, and other uses. The Heating Plant also directs the annual steam shutdown and inspection the steam and condensate distribution systems. The supervisor of the Heating Plant is Jeff Isabelle (jmisabelle).

The purpose of the heat plant is to provide all the steam required by the campus for heat, hot water, cooking and chilled water for climate control. Steam is a wonderful medium used to transfer energy from a central location to every building on campus. This steam is produced from two water tube boilers, at a pressure of 125 lbs./in 2 and a temperature of 350 degrees F. The saturated steam is then reduced to 30 lbs/in 2 and distributed throughout the campus. On average we generate 164 million pounds of steam in a calendar year. This is the equivalent of evaporating 19 million gallons of water. Once the steam has given up it's latent heat (condensed) this water or condensate is collected and returned to the heat plant to be transferred into steam once more.

The heat energy (british thermal units) within the steam comes from the stored energy in hydrocarbon based fuels which we combine with oxygen to produce a chemical reaction (combustion) and release the heat energy. We burn a combination of natural gas and heavy fuel oil. In an average year, to produce the 164 million bounds of steam needed for the campus, we must burn 1.3 million gallons of oil or 203 million cubic feet of natural gas. This is equivalent to 3,686 gallons of oil every day of the year. On the coldest day of the year we can expect to burn almost 8,000 gallons of oil.

The heat plant is staffed around the clock 365 days per year by operators licensed through the state who monitor, adjust and repair all the necessary equipment required to maintain the safe and reliable process of supplying high pressure steam to the campus.