Steam Operations


The Mission of Steam Operations is to provide continuous reliable steam service for heating, humidification and sterilization to the UAB campus and neighboring facilities.


The Vision of Steam Operations is to progress as the primary center of efficient, reliable steam production for UAB and its neighboring facilities. We will accomplish this by operating and maintaining equipment safely and efficiently in order to create an environment of continuous improvement. Our values of safety, continuous improvement, efficiency, environmental awareness and teamwork will guide us in accomplishing the District Steam Plant’s mission and vision.

Steam Operations consists of a 20,000-square-foot facility that provides 320,000 lbs/hr of steam for heating, humidification and sterilization connected to four miles of underground and aboveground piping. This is accomplished with four industrial size watertube 80,000 lbs/hr Babcock & Wilcox Boilers, which provide steam to 29 buildings throughout campus that include UAB Hospital, the VA Hospital, Callahan Eye Foundation and Southern Research Institute. The steam plant supplies these customers with 150 psig 465°F superheated steam throughout its distribution piping. Our steam distribution piping design is comprised of two steam loops with pipe sizes ranging from 4–18 inches in diameter. Over 40 steam vaults are located under streets and sidewalks throughout campus and the medical district. These vaults provide steam connections and emergency isolation points for campus buildings. Our piping design also includes a condensate return system which returns condensate back to the steam plant from the buildings for increased efficiency and less makeup water usage. Every building connected to the district steam lines is metered for steam usage and condensate return.

Ten boiler operators provide 24 hour coverage throughout UAB’s campus. In addition, a supporting preventative maintenance staff of boiler mechanics, electronic technicians and a procurement expeditor ensures maintenance is completed on all district steam plant operations. Along with maintaining steam plant operations our staff operates and maintains 106 auxiliary boilers and hot water heaters on campus. The department provides repairs to steam line piping, vault maintenance, valve repairs, boiler repairs, combustion testing, meter calibrating and in emergent situations to maintain a safe and reliable steam distribution throughout campus. Our preventative maintenance program operates year round with continued emphasis on increasing efficiency and minimizing downtime.  

  • $72 million: Total cost of District Steam System
  • 320,000 lb/hr steaming capacity
  • 4 Babcock and Wilcox 80,000 lb/hr industrial watertube boilers
  • Energy efficiency gains are estimated to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 30%
  • Return rate of 60% condensate for makeup water from outlying buildings
  • 160° F: The temperature of the water that will be captured by the condensate recovery
  • 50 million: The number of gallons of water UAB will save annually with the condensate return a $2 million per year savings in energy cost
  • 20,000: The linear feet of piping used on the project — the equivalent of almost four miles reaching 6 million square feet
  • 34: The number of UAB buildings connected to the steam plant lines, including VA Hospital, Callahan Eye Foundation and Southern Research Institute.
  • Provide heating, humidification and sterilization steam to campus, research, and hospitals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
  • 106 auxiliary outlying boilers and hot water heaters operated and maintained by steam plant operations staff