~n_Powerplant, Lowrey

If you’ve looked out the window while walking across the pedestrian bridge between the student commons and B-building, you’ve probably noticed the new construction project below.

The college is building a new state-of-the-art power plant that is highly efficient.

“It enables the college, using natural gas, to produce our own electricity. Thermal energy will be diverted to heat and cool the buildings more sustainably,” said Duane McNair, vp finance and administration.

The new power plant has a couple of two-megawatt engines which will power a generator.

According to notes provided to the college’s Board of Governors, the new plant is expected to save approximately $847,000 per year in energy costs.

“The waste energy will be converted into heating and cooling,” said John Dalziel, Algonquin’s head of major construction. This is known as co-generation – the plant generates power and redirects the warm and cold energy to areas that need it.

The heat energy generated by the machinery in the power plant will be converted into heat in the winter, which will be fed through the ducts of the school to keep students and faculty warm.

In the summer, the plant will capture cold energy and convert it into cool air to supplement the college’s cooling system.

This system will greatly improve the schools energy efficiency.

“50 per cent efficiency is the best we can get by using power from the grid to do power generation and heating. Using the co-generation plant, we can get it to 70 or 75 per cent efficiency when it’s running,” Dalziel said.

“30 per cent more efficient is 30 per cent less gas and electricity that you have to buy,” Dalziel said.

With the energy savings associated with the project, it is expected to pay for itself in 20 years.

The project is also expected to put a dent in Algonquin’s $87 million deferred maintenance budget.

The new construction component will eliminate $13 million from the deferred maintenance backlog.