Oil to Gas Conversions Across Campus

Oil to Gas Graph

In anticipation of global market conditions, Facilities Management and Planning (FM&P) will switch from using # 2 heating oil to natural gas to power the boilers at five locations across the Charles River Campus. This continuous pro-active initiative will result in substantial cost savings as well as a decrease in the University’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. Three major sites have already been converted since the implementing the initiative back in 2007, with the most significant being the East Campus Boiler Plant in the summer of 2009.  Once this next phase of the project is complete all major buildings on campus will be heated either entirely by natural gas or have a dual fuel option.  Work will commence this spring and will be completed prior the start of the fall semester 2011.

The sites being modified during this phase are 712 Beacon Street (Metcalf), 808 Commonwealth Avenue (Fuller Building), 1 University Road (BU Academy), 575 Commonwealth Avenue (HoJo), and 42 Buswell Street (student residence). The natural gas conversion project involves the installation of new gas burner technology that utilizes state of the art combustion and emission control systems. The updated  burners  and combustion controls will substantially increase the boilers’ effective efficiency, safety and reliability.  Updating the existing boilers with advanced combustion technology is a prudent alternative to installing entirely new boilers as the existing boilers are well within life cycle use.  FM&P will be removing all old oil storage tanks to reduce the potential of environmental impact due to age.

Based on current energy commodity prices, the savings in energy costs will amortize in less than two years on this phase.   The timing of these conversions is especially significant as recent unrest in the oil-rich Middle East has caused a sharp spike in oil prices. Additionally, by converting these five sites, the University’s CO2  emissions will be reduced 1,012 tons per year.  These dynamic emissions savings are equivalent to the yearly emissions of 186 cars or 25,963 trees and overall the cleaner burning natural gas with reduce harmful NOx emissions by 80% vs. heating oil.  Not only is natural gas a cleaner burning  it is domestically produced and a less expensive fuel, there is less maintenance required with gas burners so operational costs will be reduced as well.  The University is evaluating the expansion of this program to additional campus sites.