Chilled Water


Chilled Water is responsible of providing a quality environment by delivering reliable operation and maintenance of 35 centrifugal chillers (45,998 tons) and associated ancillary equipment throughout the UAB Campus. This results in dependable chilled water service to our customers at a competitive price.


The vision of Chilled Water is to facilitate a quality environment by remaining committed to a program that results in the most efficient and dependable operation of the chillers and associated ancillary equipment throughout the UAB Campus. We will reach this goal by being highly motivated, well trained, and well organized. With the input from those performing the work, we will provide the tools, equipment and training necessary for our personnel to be able to do the very best job they can in an ever changing environment.

The centralized cooling distribution system consists of three central plants with a total of 38,000 tons of centrifugal cooling capacity connected to 4.5 miles of chilled water distribution system piping. The distribution system piping ranges in size from 6 inch up to 36 inch. Total chilled water distribution system volume is 1.5 million gallons +. The distribution system serves 52 buildings totaling approximately 8 million square feet with a peak cooling load of 28,000 tons. Our annual chilled water production in 2006 was over 81 million ton-hours. By 2010 our chilled water production had increased to over 99 million ton-hours, an 18% increase. Our minimum cooling load is around 5,500 tons during the winter months. The three central plants are manned and are in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 day a year. We have 13 Central Plant Operators who work around the clock to keep the plants operating. Of the 52 buildings served by the central plants, 60% of those are Hospital operations, including patient care. The remainder is research and comfort cooling. Every building connected to the distribution system is equipped with a flow meter measuring the chilled water flow in the supply line to the building as well as the supply and return temperatures. Every building is charged a price per MMBTU consumed monthly.   

The central plants capacity is made up of industrial centrifugal chillers ranging in tonnage from 2,000 tons up to 4,000 tons each. The plants are designed for a 54 degree return and a 42 degree supply temperature, and are set up for 2 gpm per 1,000 tons. The central plants are PLC controlled to maximize the operation and efficiency of the plants. Two major projects were implemented to help improve our efficiency. One improvement was made several years ago to increase our delta-T and efficiency by removing all the three-way valves throughout the distribution system.  This eliminated the low-delta-T syndrome and increased our efficiency. Another project was started several years ago which was to replace old 78 degree wet bulb design towers with high efficiency 80 degree wet bulb design towers. This enables us to drive down our entering condenser water temperatures throughout the year below design entering condenser water temperatures, which allows us to take advantage of increased efficiencies due to tower relief. These two improvements, along with our knowledgeable plant operators, have helped us realize an average chiller efficiency of 0.59 kw per ton in 2010.

In addition to our 24 hour a day central plant operations personnel, we also have 22 employees made up of Chiller Mechanics, Repairmen, an Electronic Tech II, and a Procurement/Expeditor who provide preventive maintenance and repairs on the 38, 000 tons of centrifugal chillers and ancillary equipment within the central plants. We also provide emergency repairs, including chiller rebuilds, when the need arises. These 22 employees also run and maintain 19 smaller chillers totaling 7,898 tons of centrifugal cooling in our decentralized buildings on Campus. These buildings are not currently being served by the centralized distribution system, but are being added as additional plants and piping are installed. Our preventive maintenance schedule runs 10 months out of the year, and includes all the general maintenance activities.

Genetics Building  160,118
Biomedical Research II  96,598
McCallum Building  174,885
Bevill Biomedical  223,822
Boshell Diabetes  128,545
Sparks Center  110,610
Civitan International Research Center  59,164
Denman Hall  68,840
School of Dentistry  206,062
Engel Center  20,723
General Services Building  131,094
Lister Hill Library  150,896
Lyons-Harrison Research Building  136,159
Hospital Support Building  43,717
North Pavilion  876,625
School of Nursing  125,467
Henry Peters Building  105,252
Center for Psychiatric Medicine  187,558
Russell Ambulatory Center  93,992
Rust Computer Center  78,274
Ryals School of Public Health  115,436
Scrushy Building  76,643
Learning Resource Center  79,329
Smolian Psychiatric Clinic  22,359
Faculty Office Tower  102,731
Spain Rehabilitation Center  154,658
Spain Tower  183,163
Wallace Tower  150,479
Tinsley Harrison Tower  131,657
Medical Education Building  49,865
Jefferson Tower (South Wing)  321,782
North Wing  122,282
Quarterback Tower  91,142
New Hillman Building  62,416
Old Hillman Building  46,082
Kracke Building  40,188
Volker Hall  508,673
Wallace Tumor Institute  159,313
Webb Building  71,443
West Pavilion  430,239
Zeigler Research Building  114,912
Shelby Biomedical Building  320,888
Research Support Building  103,321
Campus Recreation Center  154,623
Chemistry Building  66,540
University Dining Facility  28,177
Heritage Hall Building  99,948
SEBLAB  43,500
Women & Infant's Center  630,000
Hill Student Center 166289
New Student Residence Hall 223945
Callahan Eye Foundation 235745
TOTAL 8,286,169