Renewable Energy Systems Award

Winner – University College Cork (UCC)

(Western Gateway Building 1 MW Ground Water Heat Pump for heating and cooling, and  Server Room heat recovery)

Company Information

University College Cork (UCC) was established in 1845 as one of three Queen’s Colleges at Cork, Galway and Belfast. The University is vibrant and outward-looking, with over 17,000 students across all major disciplines, including some 2,400 international students from 98 countries around the world. UCC is committed, at all levels of the University, to ensuring a green and sustainable campus environment. The University recognises that its activities impact upon the environment. Staff and students are now working together on projects to develop a green footprint, all the while ensuring that members of the University community are aware of the impact they, as individuals, have on the environment.

Project Description

The heat pump solution in University College Cork’s (UCC) Western Gateway Building (WGB) is the central component of this project. It is the largest building on the UCC Complex providing research and teaching accommodation for a range of academic departments such as Computer Science, Biochemistry, Mathematics, Pharmacology, Physiology, ICT and Cancer Research.

This renewable energy project is centred on a 1 MW Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) which provides heating & cooling for the building. Ground Water which has been heated by solar energy is the main heat source with heat rejected from a server room as a secondary source.

A number of studies were completed to determine the suitability of various technology options and arising from one of those studies, the opportunity to recycle heat from the server room for space heating was considered.  

This innovative system solution allows heat recovery from the building servers (300 kW) through the heat pump to provide for space and water heating displacing heat normally generated from the sites’ gas boilers. It also allows the use of ground water as heat source or heat rejection outlet (for mechanical cooling), or can allow efficient free cooling directly through the groundwater system.

The use of a ground water source heat pump driven heating and cooling plant will provide environmental benefits in the reduction of up to 56% of CO2 emissions (409 tonnes per annum) compared to conventional systems (gas boilers & air cooled chillers) and energy savings of 4.5 GWh have been achieved to date.

Judges Description

Excellent design, utilising waste heat from computer room combined together  with a ground source heat pump to provide a combination of heating and cooling to the UCC Western Gateway building. This strategy, combined with an modern controls package, utilises the most efficient combination based on demand and supply. It has achieved energy savings of 30% when compared to other buildings on the campus.

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