EEA Consulting Engineers: Thermal Utility and Electrical Masterplan

Generation and distribution project as part of a master plan at an educational facility.

By EEA Consulting Engineers August 14, 2014

Engineering firm: EEA Consulting Engineers
2014 MEP Giants rank: 83
Project: Thermal Utility and Electrical Masterplan
Address: Huntsville, Texas, U.S.
Building type: Educational facility,Utilities/public works/transportation
Project type: Other
Engineering services: Electrical/power, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, energy/sustainability, plumbing/piping, and other
Project timeline: 4/16/2012 to 3/27/2013
MEP/FP budget: $194,500


The project is a study of the 7,000-ton chilled water, 18,000 MBTU heating water, and electrical systems on campus and is part of a larger master planning project for Sam Houston State University performed by SmithGroupJJR. The following components were included in this study:

  1. Campus thermal utility cooling and heating load analyses
  2. Hydraulic models of the 33-building campus chilled and heating water systems as they are currently installed, as well as models depicting the campus master plan and resulting recommended utility infrastructure upgrades and improvements
  3. Thermal expansion model of the east campus heating water loop replacement
  4. Campus electrical system load analysis, short circuit and coordination study, and harmonic study.

The majority of the new master planned construction was located on two separate ends of campus. This created the challenge of providing new utilities to two new portions of the campus within a short period of time. Existing and new construction in addition to landscaping, known existing utilities, and general constructability were all considered in routing the new utilities throughout the campus. Initial capacity and distribution issues with the campus utility generation systems needed to be addressed in the master plan. Recommended scheduling was needed to identify priorities and coincidences with other planned projects on the campus. The university’s desire for general system redundancy, coupled with several high-priority buildings, also needed to be integrated into the utility masterplan. Minimizing both system downtime and interruption to surface traffic were also extremely important considerations.


The final master plan for the system maximized usation of existing generation and distribution equipment (both in plants and piping) to allow for phasing of the utility infrastructure upgrade installations. This was to be done in two ways:

  1. Renovation of existing equipment to maximize capacity, and
  2. Connecting to the existing system in strategic locations that would maximize use of the existing piping under normal operating conditions.

The end result was a utility master plan that would provide a robust and redundant generating and distribution system capable of providing reliable utility service to the existing and planned customer buildings far into the future.