Sustainable Architecture on Campus

When one thinks of sustainable architecture on campus, the steam tunnels that run from Coors to heat our sidewalk normally come to mind.

As Chris Cocallas, the University Architect at Mines, explained, the heating and cooling infrastructure at Mines is based on, “Steam and chilled water.  Most buildings on campus are served with chilled water and steam from the steam tunnels.”

“[In the] 80’s Mines installed a line to the Coors Brewery to supply the campus with steam from their plant.  We have primarily run off the Coors source since that time.

The steam pipe running to Coors rapidly deteriorating, These lines are buried directly in the ground and are subject to deterioration.  If we were to replace them, or construct tunnels to Coors you can imagine what that would mean.

The cost and impact to the area would be significant.  They run down 13th and go straight through downtown to Coors.  he stated,  “In the next 2 or 3 years we may no longer be using Coors steam”

“We need a reliable source of steam for the campus, that we control,” Cocallas continued. Coors experiences outages that are not planned which requires Mines to use the boilers in our heating plant.  The boilers in the heating plant have failed over the last few years requiring Mines to install an emergency boiler.  This has lead to a complete renovation of the heating plant.

Once complete, the campus will have a reliable and redundant source of steam at 13th and Cheyenne plant and will make Mines self sufficient in regard to steam generation.

Other sustainable infrastructure on campus includes the pedestrian plaza. “We are extending the plaza. We’re putting permeable pavers in to filter the water.” said Cocallas. The pedestrian plaza helps Golden meet the water standard required by their Urban Drainage permit.

Cocallas has ideas for implementing solar on campus as well. “I’m hoping that we can look at solar strategies to put solar panels on [the new parking garage]. The garage is a great way to introduce solar to campus,” Cocallas said. The parking garage’s large flat roof would allow solar panels to be economically feasible for campus.

Campus will never be energy self sufficient.  We do not have enough land to implement alternative sources such as solar or wind power that could serve the campus in its entirety. Mines is considering a strategy that would allow us to go off the electric grid during periods of high demand.

Cocallas explains, “We’re looking at project that puts large generators out in the Ford lot .  When Xcel hits peak loads in the summer, they kick you off the grid for a short period of time. These generators fire up and we step off the grid.

In return we get significantly lower energy rates.  This strategy to step off the grid during periods of high allows for power generation and transmission companies to reduce infrastructure and energy generation efforts.

The State of Colorado requires buildings meeting certain energy standards Mines strives to achieve LEED gold on all are buildings, although, in some cases we have achieved LEED silver.  Elm Hall, Brown Hall Addition, and the Starzer Welcome Center have all been certified LEED gold.


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