Academic District Energy System (ADES) Valve Optimization program

Since April 2021, Energy & Water Services (EWS) has been undergoing a District Energy System (DES) valve optimization project across the UBC Vancouver campus.  The Academic District Energy System (ADES) is a highly efficient hot water district energy system that serves over 140 buildings across the UBC Vancouver campus.

The DES valve optimization project was executed over two phases at 10 worksites and included 18 valves ranging from 100mm up to 350mm — starting with one of the most complex shutdowns at Purdy Pavilion between Health Sciences Mall and the UBC Hospital. Through modifying and adding valves to the ADES, the crew minimizes the number of buildings that will be impacted by DES maintenance or emergency shutdowns in the long run.

Teamwork is key in a complex project like this. Kevin Phelan, the District Energy System Process Engineer with EWS and project lead, worked closely with the Facilities Managers, building administrators and occupants, and contractors to organize the building’s heating and hot water systems shutdowns to ensure a smooth execution. The EWS Steamfitter crew — Michael Carroll, Steven Blackett, Brett Harris, Tyler Cudmore, and Norman Esplana worked tirelessly alongside the contractors for all the associated shutdowns – the most noteworthy being for the Purdy valve replacement, where the team took on the task of isolating 17 buildings, as well as draining and cooling 1km of DES piping for the contractors to complete the valve installation.

One of the additional challenges was having to provide temporary heat for the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) throughout the duration of the shutdown. The team came up with the solution of parking a 300kW rental boiler in the BRC loading bay and connecting it into the energy transfer station.

Despite the hurdle and complexity of the project, the team has already installed 14 of the 18 DES valves since the project commenced on April 16, 2021, and is on track for completion by end of August 2021. Kudos to the team for undertaking this important project with poise, care and always with safety in mind!