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Utilities: Powering MIT’s Present and Future

The Utilities team maintains MIT’s electricity, heating, and cooling resources. We maintain and operate the cogeneration-based Central Utilities Plant (CUP), which produces much of the electricity, steam, chilled water, and compressed air used on campus. Our staff engineers and operating personnel also collaborate with Repair and Maintenance to maintain the on-campus underground utility distribution systems and electrical substations. We work closely with Facilities Engineering and the Efficiency Forward program to identify and implement energy conservation efforts in new and existing systems, and we plan for MIT’s future energy needs.

Services and responsibilities:

  • Operate and maintain the Central Utilities Plant, the East Campus Chiller Plant, and the distribution systems for on-campus electrical, heating, and cooling needs
  • Identify and undertake utility-related energy conservation projects, working to build efficient new systems and implement energy-saving improvements
  • Plan for utility systems expansion and upgrading with a long-range view toward future energy use
  • Engineer, design, estimate, and manage construction and start-up services for expansion and maintenance of utilities
  • Perform all licensing and reporting functions for compliance with government, environmental and utility regulatory requirements
  • Provide all administrative services for the purchasing, metering, and distribution of costs for electricity, city water, natural gas, chilled water, steam, and fuel oil

Central Utilities Plant (CUP)

Completed in 1995 and upgraded in 2021, the CUP’s William R. Dickson Cogeneration Facility (Building 42, on the northern edge of campus) helps MIT conserve energy and reduce pollution. Cogeneration – which achieves high efficiency by using one fuel to generate two types of energy – is one of the cleaner and most cost-effective options for producing power. At the CUP, two natural gas turbines produce both electric and thermal energy; the waste heat from the turbine exhaust is captured in heat recovery steam generators, and the resulting steam is used for heating and cooling (via chillers that are driven by steam turbines). The facility has won a number of awards, including the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power Award for environmental excellence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy in 2002.

Utility Projects

The Utility Projects team oversees and manages the Institute’s utility infrastructure, from the design and construction of new systems to the repair and renewal of existing operations. Our projects support MIT’s goal of constantly improving the resiliency of the campus and the reliability of its systems. We work collaboratively with other Facilities groups as well as with external suppliers, engineers, and architects, focusing on projects that range from utility repairs and system upgrades to new installations and comprehensive overhauls like the CUP plant renovation.

 Help reduce energy use on campus
 MIT Efficiency Forward program reduces electricity use on campus


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