Commercial Energy Systems

Central Plant System


A central plant system serves several buildings with a heating and/or cooling medium from a central plant source using four components:

1. Energy sources (usually electric power and fossil fuels)

2. Systems to convert the energy sources to thermal energy, (usually chilled and hot water)

3. Transmission and distribution systems.

4. End use in the various served buildings.

Central Plant System

The individual buildings redistribute these mediums within the building using fan-coil or similar air handling units serving several control zones to provide thermal comfort and ventilation. These systems are commonly used on large college and university campuses, large Defense Department facilities (Army, Navy, and Air Force bases, etc.), and large institutional facilities such as multi-building hospitals and medical centers.

When the central plant and the thermal transmission and distribution facilities are privately or municipally owned, they are referred to as district heating and cooling systems.

Central plant systems have similar advantages and disadvantages to Central Systems, except that they serve multiple buildings. Electricity is converted to heat energy in a boiler or cogeneration plant and is distributed via a piping system as either steam, hot water, or HTHW (high temperature hot water). Fuel is converted to energy for cooling using large chillers (although steam turbine drive or absorption chillers are also used in certain designs) and is distributed via a piping system as chilled water or brine.

Links to Related Topics

Indoor Air Quality
Outside Air Control
Central (or Built-Up) System
All-Air Central Systems
All-Air Central Reheat Systems
All-Air Central Dual Duct
All-Air Central Multizone
All-Air Rooftop
Air-Water Central Systems
All Water Central Systems
Two Pipe System
Three Pipe System
Four Pipe System