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NextGen Energy Program Overview

The NextGen Energy Program (NextGen) is a strategy to replace, renew and modernize the University of Maryland, College Park's aging energy system.  

NextGen continues UMD’s 20-year, cutting-edge approach to providing creative and sustainable energy solutions through public-private partnerships (P3s). Under the proposed P3 for NextGen, UMD will contract with a private sector entity to design, engineer, finance and install energy system improvements. The entity will also manage, operate and maintain the university's energy systems moving forward.

By modernizing our systems, NextGen aims to drive UMD's success and support its mission of providing excellent teaching, research and services; advance UMD's commitment to addressing climate change; and ensure responsible stewardship of our resources, facilities and infrastructure. 

After extensive research and evaluation, the NextGen Energy Program proposes replacing our existing energy system in a way that is consistent with our core values and best serves our community, now and in the future. 

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.

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.

 

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

HOW WE ARRIVED AT THE NEXTGEN ENERGY PROGRAM 

Necessity, Efficiency, Environmental Awareness and Better Technologies

With our previous energy system partnership ending and our current system becoming less efficient and reaching the end of its useful life, the university is evaluating an extensive range of options for generating heat and electricity on campus moving forward. NextGen 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 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Updating the distribution system to make heating and cooling campus buildings more efficient, reducing commodity costs and GHG emissions
  • Repairing our steam distribution and condensate return systems, saving 38 million gallons of water annually
  • Making modifications enabling flexibility to incorporate new renewable energy sources and technologies, such as Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) and modern hydrogen

The proposed NextGen Energy Program has the potential to produce cost savings in energy efficiencies and reduced maintenance, freeing resources for initiatives like: 

The proposed NextGen Energy Program has the potential to produce cost savings in energy efficiencies and reduced maintenance, freeing resources for initiatives like: Groundbreaking research in collaboration with faculty & staff; upgrades to campus facilities; student scholarship & internships; 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 by the selected finalists and feedback from the UMD community. This NextGen Energy Program is the path to our renewable 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 also consistent with the state of Maryland’s climate goals and with the state's benchmarks regarding the reduction of GHG emissions. 

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 utilize the technologies of tomorrow.  

  • NextGen will invest in enhanced control and monitoring systems, which will strengthen energy conservation campus-wide.
  • NextGen will update the university’s distribution system to make heating and cooling campus buildings more efficient.

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.