University of Minnesota Combined Heat and Power Plant
Project Location: 1180 Main Street, University of Minnesota East Bank Campus, Minneapolis, MN
Nominated by: Braun Intertec on behalf of the University of Minnesota

 The University of Minnesota’s Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHPP) is one of the University’s most significant steps in achieving its aggressive goal to reduce carbon emissions 50% by the year 2020. The project retrofitted the severely outdated “Old Main” steam plant first constructed in 1912 in a former limestone quarry on the banks of the Mississippi River and an onsite incinerator operational from the 1950s to 1970s. The end result is a highly efficient plant that simultaneously produces enough electricity and thermal energy from a single combined process to generate the entirety of the University of Minnesota’s steam heat. The University excepts to save $8,000,000 per year in electrical and heating costs.

The project faced a number of challenges to realize success including, the accessibility of a site built into a river bluff, abatement of legacy contaminants in tight working areas, the necessity of keeping the steam and condensate piping system active, the need to take proactive erosion and storm water control measures, and contaminated groundwater seepage. The CHPP overcame these site challenges by taking proactive actions to stabilize and improve site conditions combined with constant monitoring.

When fully operational, the University’s CHPP will effectively retire two coal fired burners at the University, and remove 32,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, the same as removing 30 automobiles from the road each year. The replacement of failing storm sewer structures, use of wildlife friendly erosion measures, and conversion of nitrogen oxide to nitrogen and water further enhance the sustainability of the power plant. The project also conforms to the Sustainable Building 2030 (SB 2030) Energy Standards and the Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines. CHPP serves as a model for sustainability and climate minded redevelopment.

Project Financing:

  • State Funding: $10,000,000
  • University of Minnesota: $102,981,000

Project Partners

  • University of Minnesota
  • Adolfson and Peterson
  • Braun Intertec
  • SKB Landfill
  • Minnesota Pollution Control agency
  • Centerpoint Energy
  • Minnesota Commercial Railroad
  • MBJ Engineering
  • Mavo Systems
  • Midamerica Technical and Environmental
  • Hunt Electric Corporation
  • North County Power Project Consultants
  • Pace Analytical
  • Jacobs Engineering
  • Carl Bolander and Sons
  • Xcel Energy
  • General Electric Companies
  • BNSF Railroad
  • Rani Engineering
  • Envirobate
  • Liesch and Associates
  • Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors
  • Legend Technical Services
  • EPI
  • Harris Mechanical
  • MDH