Building Renewal Program (BRP): The program addressing deferred maintenance in buildings across campus. BRP is closely integrated with the Energy Renewal Program, which is the program for implementing the Energy Transformation Strategy.
Campus Asset Renewal Program (CARP): The program that encompasses the Building Renewal Program and the Energy Renewal Program, which is the program for implementing the Energy Transformation Strategy. The CARP ensures close collaboration between both planning efforts, with a shared governance structure.
Chillers: Equipment powered by electricity that chills water for cooling a building. At the UW, there are chillers in the Power Plant, which serves multiple buildings throughout campus; West Campus Utility Plant, which serves critical research buildings in the southwestern corner of campus; and in individual buildings, often referred to as standalone or decentralized chillers. Every building with a chiller requires equipment that dissipates the heat into the air, such as a cooling tower or condenser fan. Related concepts include chilled water and chilled water storage.
Clean energy: Energy that comes from generation systems that does not create greenhouse gas emissions. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, the UW’s Seattle campus energy system will be powered by electricity provided by Seattle City Light, which is generated largely by hydropower, a source of clean energy. A related concept is renewable energy.
Climate Commitment Act (CCA): Law passed in 2021 by the Washington State Legislature that caps and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from Washington’s largest emitting sources, which includes the UW. As a covered entity under the law, the UW and other emitters purchase emission allowances at quarterly auctions, based on how much they pollute. Under the law, auction proceeds from the CCA allowance auctions must be invested in critical climate projects focused on reducing emissions, improving clean transportation options — increasing climate resilience in ecosystems and communities — and addressing issues of environmental justice and health inequity in Washington. The UW has been the recipient of a portion of these proceeds to date.
Cooling: Broadly, all methods of decreasing the temperature in a space, including passive techniques like opening windows and using fans. Regarding the Energy Transformation Strategy, it refers to a need for increased cooling of spaces through mechanical cooling (i.e., air conditioning) to address climate adaptation issues like hotter summers and wildfire smoke. The strategy calls for greater use of chillers at the Power Plant and West Campus Utility Plant and the elimination of the standalone chillers distributed across campus in individual buildings.
Cooling tower: A heat exchanging device, where water is used to transfer low-grade heat into the atmosphere. With centralized cooling, heat is a byproduct of the chilled water that is distributed to buildings. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, the UW will reuse that heat, lessening its dependence on natural gas.
District energy system: A centralized system for heating and cooling many buildings from a central location. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, UW’s existing district energy system and infrastructure tunnels will be utilized and expanded to connect all buildings to the Power Plant. Currently, some buildings have their own standalone systems.
Electrical capacity: The maximum amount of power, or load, available from an electrical resource. UW has electrical capacity constraints due to the size of the cables at the site where the UW gets power from Seattle City Light, which also constrains UW’s ability to maintain redundancy in case of a catastrophic failure. An example of when this constraint becomes an issue is when cooling demand is high. More electricity will also be needed when the UW centralizes cooling and electrifies its district energy system as part of the Energy Transformation Strategy. Related concepts include energy use, energy consumption, energy load, electrical demand and energy intensity.
Electrify: To power with electricity. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, the UW’s heating system will use heat pumps that are powered by electricity instead of relying on burning natural gas, a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Related concepts include clean energy.
Emission allowances: An authorization given by the government to an entity, like a business or organization, to emit greenhouse gases. In Washington, these are established according to the Climate Commitment Act. Emission allowances are obtained through quarterly auctions hosted by the Washington Department of Ecology. Also known as allowances, carbon emission allowances, pollution permits and carbon allowances. Related concepts include carbon fees, carbon-pricing programs, carbon taxes and carbon-pricing schemes.
Energy efficiency: The use of less energy to perform the same task. The first stage of the Energy Transformation Strategy focuses on projects that improve energy efficiency by reducing the UW’s energy use, or consumption. These projects include reducing waste (also known as resource conservation), installing digital meters and controls, and using digital analytics.
Energy Renewal Program (ERP): The implementation plan for the Energy Transformation Strategy, including modernizing Power Plant infrastructure at the end of its useful life to increase resiliency and reliability.
Energy system, energy infrastructure: The system for heating and cooling campus, which at the UW Seattle campus typically refers to the Power Plant and associated tunnels, but also includes the West Campus Utility Plant, standalone chillers and other infrastructure.
Energy Transformation Strategy: The five-step plan to decarbonize, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from, the energy system of the UW Seattle campus. Elements of the plan include reducing energy consumption, converting the Power Plant from natural gas to electricity, capturing waste heat, and centralizing cooling. Also known as energy transition strategy, clean energy strategy and energy strategy.
Facility Condition Assessment (FCA): A detailed survey of physical and functional conditions of a set of buildings and its assets.
Facilities Condition Needs Index (FCNI): A ratio of 10-Year Renewal Needs (including Deferred Renewal) to the Current Replacement Value. The FCNI provides a lifecycle cost comparison against all buildings for identifying worst-case/best-case building conditions.
Greenhouse gas emissions: Pollution containing greenhouse gases, which are gases that trap heat and cause climate change. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, followed by methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. Greenhouse gas emissions are caused by burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. The UW burns natural gas to create steam to heat campus, thus creating greenhouse gas emissions.
Heat pump: A device that uses electricity to transfer heat between cool and warm spaces, making spaces cooler or warmer. Because heat pumps transfer heat rather than generate heat, they are energy efficient. Heat pumps can be air source, water source or geothermal (ground source). With the Energy Transformation Strategy, water-source heat pumps will recover waste heat from the cooling towers, sewers and lake water to heat campus, fully electrifying the UW’s energy system and eliminating its dependence on fossil fuels.
Hot water system: The system where hot water is used to distribute space heating and warm water to buildings. Currently, high-temperature steam created by burning natural gas travels through the tunnels to heat campus. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, lower-temperature hot water created by heat pumps will travel through the tunnels for heating.
Intelligent Systems & Engineering Services (ISES): The specialist consultant hired to conduct a facility condition assessment (FCA) of the UW’s building assets.
Peak demand: Times when the UW or other entities reach electrical capacity, such as during the summer when cooling uses a lot of electricity. During these times, cooling may need to be temporarily curtailed for select buildings.
Power Plant: The structure, which sits on Montlake Boulevard across from the UW’s Intramural Activities building, that provides heating and cooling for buildings on the UW Seattle campus. Historically, the Power Plant did provide electrical power to campus but currently provides only backup power. Heating comes from burning natural gas at the plant to create steam, and its electrical chillers produce chilled water that cools campus. Converting the Power Plant from relying on burning natural gas to using electricity is a central part of the Energy Transformation Strategy. Also known as steam plant, utility plant and central plant.
Steam system: The system currently in place that uses high-temperature steam created by burning natural gas to heat campus. The steam travels through the tunnels to campus buildings. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, electric heat pumps will replace natural gas boilers, creating a lower-temperature hot water system to distribute space heating and warm water to buildings.
Thermal storage: Storing hot or cold water in insulated tanks for use when demand is increasing. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, a thermal storage tank will hold chilled water for cooling and hot water for heating. Storing pre-heated and pre-cooled water will mean there’s less need to use chillers and heat pumps, easing electricity use. Also known as chilled water storage and hot water storage.
Tunnels: The nearly eight miles of tunnels that run underneath campus, distributing steam for heating, chilled water for cooling, electrical lines, communication lines and network cables to campus buildings. Also known as utility tunnels.
Waste heat: Heat that is produced by a system or machine, or other process that uses energy, as a byproduct. With the Energy Transformation Strategy, heat pumps will use waste heat to heat campus. An example of waste heat that will be used includes the water warmed by hot air in buildings during the process of cooling, which currently evaporates at the cooling towers. Another example is waste heat from sewage lines, such as warm water from showers, sinks and toilets. Also known as low-grade heat.
West Campus Utility Plant: The mechanical infrastructure that provides backup power and cooling to energy-intensive research buildings in the southwestern corner of the UW campus. Also known as West CUP and WCUP.