Energy Management

Operations Control Center in Facilities and Real Estate Services

The Operations Control Center in Facilities and Real Estate Services controls and monitors utilities for the entire campus. From this centralized location at the Left Bank, staff can regulate our utility distribution.

The SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system monitors and controls critical equipment such as HVAC systems, chiller plants, electrical substations, lighting, and space conditions throughout the campus. The system uses an expert alarm system that will display a text message when conditions are not within their operating conditions. The Operations Control Center can then adjust the systems accordingly.

The three main utilities for the campus are steam, chilled water, and electric power.


The Penn Steam Distribution system consists of approximately 7 miles of underground pipeline ranging in size from 2 inches to 12-inch pipe.

The University implemented a steam trap testing program which resulted in significant steam cost savings. This testing program over the last 5 years has reduced lost steam costs by over 1.2 million dollars.

Other projects being implemented to improve the steam distribution system are an insulation renewal project and a comprehensive steam manhole survey. These two projects will further reduce steam system line losses by identifying and replacing defective insulation and identifying and repairing aging manholes.

Chilled Water

Air conditioning at the University of Pennsylvania is handled by a centralized Chilled Water Plant system, which allows for greater efficiencies. Chilled water is pumped throughout the campus to the various buildings through underground mains. Our two major plants, MOD 7 and MOD 6 supply the University’s cooling capacity and have sustainable features. MOD 7, our newest chiller plant, is equipped with free cooling capacity that allows us to reduce energy costs during the winter, spring, and fall seasons by using the cool ambient air to cool the chilled water. MOD 6 has an Ice Storage System that is used for cooling during peak electrical demands.

Electrical Power

Electrical power distribution on campus is managed by a system consisting of 8 substations, monitored from our Operations Control Center. The SCADA system totals the consumption of all the substations so that the control room supervisors can trim the chiller plants and other electrical devices to meet our designated target for electrical consumption.

Penn continues as the largest purchaser of Renewable Energy Credits among American universities. We purchase approximately 50% of the University’s total electrical energy use from Renewable Energy Credits since 2007 to help minimize our carbon footprint. Penn