Three midstate contractors are leading a $30.2 million project to convert Shippensburg University's heating and cooling systems from coal to gas.
The project is expected to save the school $330,000 annually in electricity costs when completed.
"The project is necessary to replace the aging infrastructure and to take advantage of reduced operating costs," Lance Bryson, associate vice president of facilities management and planning, said in a news release.
"The primary mission is to provide a safe, reliable, and cost-effective environment for the university to perform its primary mission of educating students," he added.
The project is funded by the state through the state's Capital Funding program. The general contractor is Lobar Inc. of Dillsburg, the HVAC contractor is The Farfield Co. of Lititz, and the plumbing contractor is Stouffer Mechanical Contractor of Chambersburg.
The current coal-powered steam plant used for heating will be decommissioned. Four new centralized heating "neighborhoods" powered by natural gas will be used for on-campus heating.
Those systems will be operational by the end of September. Existing pipes from the steam plant will be used for the new heating system, the release stated, saving the university approximately $10 million.
A new cooling plant will be constructed near the Cora I. Grove Spiritual Center that will centralize chilled water. The chilled water will be distributed underground to buildings for air conditioning. Currently, each building with air conditioning has its own unit.
Grass and landscaping will replace units outside each building. This part of the project is expected to be completed by April 2015,
In addition to savings in electricity, the shift from coal to natural gas is anticipated to reduce the university's carbon footprint by 31 percent. The centralization of the chilled water production is anticipated to reduce the carbon footprint by another 8 percent.
During construction, campus sidewalks, roads and pathways will be affected. Contractors will provide alternate routes for any pathway that must be temporarily closed, and excavations will be safe and well-marked for campus safety, the release said.
The first area affected will be Cumberland Drive, Franklin Science Center and Ceddia Union Building sidewalks and paths. Other areas on campus will be affected as the work progresses.