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NextGen Energy Program Overview

The NextGen Energy Program (NextGen) replaces, renews and modernizes the University of Maryland, College Park's aging energy system. 

The university’s current system is aging, becoming less reliable and efficient. We conducted extensive research and evaluated a range of options to replace it in a way that is consistent with our core values and aspirations and best serves our community, now and for future generations.

Renewing our energy system will drive student, faculty and staff productivity, and allow the University of Maryland to continue to invest in world-class research, attract the best talent and boost the economic well-being of the region and the state.

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Home to over 55,000 students, faculty and staff and more than 250 buildings, the University of Maryland is a small city unto itself. NextGen will ensure that our College Park Campus has reliable, efficient and affordable energy services for decades to come.

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HOW OUR ENERGY SYSTEM OPERATES TODAY

Typical buildings require cooling, heating and electricity to operate. The over 250 buildings on campus are no different. In 1999, UMD successfully partnered with a private sector energy company to provide energy to our campus.  

Our current energy system provides heating, cooling and electric services through what’s known as “tri-generation.” This allows us to produce all three types of energy with only one fuel input, minimizing lost or wasted energy.

The process begins with a natural gas-fired turbine that produces the bulk of electric energy for the campus. Rather than being lost, the heat that this turbine gives off is then captured in a heat recovery system to produce and process steam for heating the campus. The recovered steam is also utilized to generate additional electric power and to drive chillers that provide cooling to campus.

 

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The NextGen Energy Program will modernize UMD's energy system to continue our legacy of achievement as a preeminent center for research and education. 

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HOW WE ARRIVED AT THE NEXTGEN ENERGY PROGRAM 

Resiliency, Efficiency, Carbon Reduction and Better Technologies

With our previous energy system partnership ending and our current system reaching the end of its useful life, the university is moving to NextGen, which will allow us to improve our system in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Reducing the size of the combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, creating an immediate 23% reduction in emissions
  • Updating the distribution system to make heating and cooling campus buildings more efficient, reducing commodity costs and emissions
  • Repairing our steam distribution and condensate return systems, saving 38 million gallons of water annually
  • Modernizing our energy system to incorporate new, high-efficiency technologies of today while providing flexibility to incorporate zero-emission fuels and technologies of the future.

NextGen continues UMD's 20-year, cutting-edge approach to providing creative and sustainable energy solutions through public-private partnerships (P3s). Under the P3 for NextGen, UMD will contract with Maryland Energy Impact Partners (MEIP), which includes Plenary Americas US Holdings Inc., Kiewit Development Company, Kiewit Power Constructors Co, and Honeywell International, Inc., a group of experienced operators, to design, engineer, finance and install energy system improvements. MEIP will also manage, operate, and maintain the university's energy systems moving forward.

MEIP will provide academic collaborations that include opportunities for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty members and researchers including:

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Student scholarships and internships
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Groundbreaking research in collaboration with faculty and students
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New and innovative academic programs

The NextGen Energy Program is committed to executing the most fiscally responsible approach to replace, renew and modernize UMD’s aging energy system and serve as a platform to advance key campus-wide sustainability goals.

We have set an aggressive goal to achieve a fossil fuel-free energy system by 2035 based on our analysis of technical concepts submitted during the procurement process  and feedback from the UMD community. This NextGen Energy Program is the path to our sustainable energy future and builds on the university’s sustainability commitment and supports our efforts, immediately and in the future, to achieve our goal of having a fossil fuel-free energy system by 2035.

NextGen is consistent with the state of Maryland’s climate goals – in fact, we are ahead of the state in terms of carbon-neutral goals. We lead Big 10 peers in renewable energy use, with 21% of total energy use coming from renewable sources. We use more wind and solar power for our electricity use than any of our Big 10 peers, with approximately 67% of our electricity use coming from these sources. Our 2025 carbon neutral goal is in line with many of our Big 10 peers.

The NextGen Energy Program is highly adaptable, allowing the University of Maryland to incorporate the new, high-efficiency technologies of today while providing flexibility to incorporate zero-emission fuels and technologies of the future.

  • Currently, we are engaged in discussions with Prince George’s County on the feasibility of sourcing renewable natural gas from its landfill. This will provide benefits to the community, reduce emissions from the landfill and improve air quality.
  • We are also exploring the future use of hydrogen to fuel the turbine.

As the NextGen Energy Program progresses, the university is committed to working alongside the State, the university community and other stakeholders.

Visit the Program Timeline and Program Team pages for additional information. 

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