Harnessing Your Power

Separate utility lines are often required for new campus buildings because the size and location of existing utilities are unknown, or because their capacity has been reached or exceeded.  As a campus grows, the resulting collection of utility lines can gridlock future development and require costly utility relocation as additions are made.

As a campus grows, the resulting collection of utility lines can gridlock future development and require costly relocation.

To avoid these future problems, long-range plans for college campuses should include a site utilities master plan showing existing utility runs and recommending locations and sizes of future utilities to serve campus growth.  The utilities master plan should have an accompanying action plan that spells out the logical steps toward implementation, couples utility development with building construction, and provides for future expansion.

Setting plans into action

A recent construction project at California Baptist College (CBC) demonstrates the value of conducting a utilities master plan. This type of planning is generally not considered a “standard service” of most campus planners — CBC’s need was identified in the early stages of designing a new science complex.

The resulting utilities survey produced the following results for CBC’s initial new building, phase one of the three-phase science complex:

  • A 12″ sanitary sewer was designed in lieu of the 8″ line required for the science building by itself, thus avoiding reconstruction of the sewer line when future buildings are added.
  • Water service is 12″ rather than 6″.
  • Chilled water piping provides for future connection of the building’s stand-alone rooftop HVAC system to CBC’s central chilled water loop.
  • Primary power is brought to an over-sized transformer that will serve the entire three-phase science complex plus adjacent buildings.
  • Underground communications conduits connect the science building to existing adjacent buildings, and will connect to future phases for voice, data and cable TV.

What to include

A typical utilities master plan should include:

  • Recommendations for campus-wide services for electricity, natural gas, water, sanitary sewers, storm sewers, chilled water and communications.
  • Schematic campus drawings coordinated with the facilities master plan indicating the size, location and routing of the vaarious utility lines.
  • Life-cycle cost analyses of varaious options that will arise in the planning of HVAC, electrical distribution and other systems.
  • An indication of how and in what order new utility mains should be constructed to serve new buildings, and in what order existing buildings should be connected to the new mains.

The cost of this utility work should be calculated and added to building costs to guide the institution in funding of both the new and/or renovated buildings and the upgraded utilities to serve them.

Master Plan for Hannibal-LaGrange College

Master Plan for Hannibal-LaGrange College

Determining needs

Methodology for utilities planning should follow logically from a needs analysis approach to campus planning:

  • Develop space evaluations for each department, providing information on the amount and type of space in each building.
  • Determine basic plumbing fixture counts from projected occupancy loads, male/female population mixes, and minimum fixture requirements dictated by building codes.
  • Develop HVAC requirements from projected building heights and areas using nationally published energy standards.
  • Project electrical consumption for lighting and power loads based on the estimated building areas and HVAC requirements.
  • Identify special fixtures, such as lab sinks or safety showers; unusual electrical requirements for copiers, computers and, fume hoods; and special HVAC requirements for each space.
  • Calculate storm water runoff and detention by comparing the proposed campus land-use plan with the existing campus, determining the impermeable area added. Use local rainfall rates and code-dictated detention regulations to size pipes and detention facilities.

A reasonably accurate survey of existing utility lines can be prepared by studying existing building drawings, locating visible structures on site, reviewing utility company drawings and records, using various electronic subsurface detection techniques, and sighting directions between visible structures with a transit. Working with a professional surveyor will allow you to prepare a “best guess” drawing showing utility lines, sizes, flow directions and approximate depths.

Campuses constructed over an extended time frame often have multiple

Site Utilities Master Plan for Hannibal-LaGrange College

Site Utilities Master Plan for Hannibal-LaGrange College

electrical service entries that can be inefficient and may add significantly to operating costs. A life-cycle cost analysis (initial cost plus operating costs plus maintenance and replacement costs over the projected life of the building) can compare individual, separately-metered service entries for each building; a single-metered campus service entry with primary power distribution to individual buildings or groups of buildings; or stepped-down (480-volt) distribution.

Utilities master planning can result in some immediate decisions that will save on future projects.

The appropriate solution in each case will be unique to the individual campus and will depend on layout; sequence and timing of development; climate; local energy availability and costs; and local energy codes. Many electric utility companies have programs that will pay for the cost of this analysis, and may even contribute to the construction cost of solutions that will reduce peak demand.

Using your action plan

Once systems are selected, capacities, line sizes and routing can be determined by considering the recommended facility construction sequence of the action plan. The most efficient utility corridors are plotted on the land-use plan and lines sized for ultimate development.

A utilities action plan supplement to the facilities action plan should then be prepared so that the required utility lines can be funded and constructed in conjunction with the individual buildings. Utilities master planning can result in some immediate decisions that will save significant costs on future construction projects. By investing a relatively small amount during the long-range planning effort, colleges and universities can receive logical plans for all of their underground utilities before significant additional campus development takes place.

This article originally appeared in American School & University, July 1994.