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UW–Madison Utility and Energy Study

UW–Madison’s district energy system has provided heating and cooling to campus in a safe, reliable, and efficient manner for over 130 years. Now, with the announcement of the Chancellor’s environmental sustainability initiative, campus experts are partnering with consultants from Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI) to conduct a study that will help identify options to meet the following institutional goals:

AEI consultants have completed similar studies at other universities and are bringing their knowledge and modeling experience to UW–Madison’s campus. You can provide feedback on this study by scrolling to the bottom of this page.

Background and Scope of Study

The central campus building system is supported by three main utility plants: Walnut Street Heating Plant, West Campus Cogeneration Facility, and the Charter Street Heating Plant.

Map showing campus outlines along Lake Mendota with three power plants identified with red lines.

The Utility and Energy Study will seek to achieve the following:

  1. Develop scenarios to achieve net zero Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions from
    campus power plants by 2048 or sooner and which meet campus safety, reliability, and efficiency standards.
  2. Develop scenarios that anticipate the university reaching its goal of procuring 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and realizing net zero emissions from electricity by 2048 or sooner.
  3. Through stakeholder engagement during the plan’s development, ensure that the plan will add value to campus climate action planning, campus greenhouse gas emissions planning and the campus of earning STARS Gold by 2025.

Long Range Planning

The study will inform UW–Madison campus climate action and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions planning efforts through the development of two options to eliminate use of Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions in the campus’ district heating and cooling system. The study will also inform the new 2025 Campus Framework (Master) Plan updates and Utility Master Plan updates.  Scope 1 GHG emissions are the direct emissions that occur from sources that the university owns or controls. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling.

Graphic showing arrows and pathways for the three greenhouse gas emissions scopes
Image Source: WRI/WBCSD Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard (PDF), page 5.

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