News 17 May 2023

Major facility upgrade for the University of Parma

Plant upgrading works at the University of Parma campus will soon begin: the last formal step was the positive validation by RinaCheck of the executive project prepared by Cogenera.

But let’s go in order…

Siram, the current manager in force at the university’s buildings, commissioned Cogenera in 2019 to prepare a feasibility project that would be included in the proposed PPP (Public Private Partnership) under the current Procurement Code.

The basket of hypothesized interventions was very broad and heterogeneous, extending to all buildings owned by the University (Campus, University Hospital, Biological plexuses, external premises); some of them aimed at increasing energy efficiency, others at plant upgrading and regulatory compliance.

The total amount of works estimated in the feasibility study phase was more than 20 million euros.

The project delivered was declared to be of public interest by the University, which subsequently issued a call for tenders placing the project prepared by Cogenera as the basis, and asking competitors to propose additional improvements.

Siram then participated in the tender as a promoter, entrusting Cogenera with the task of the final design of the works, an activity concluded in February 2021.

At the end of the evaluation process by the examining board, Siram emerged as the winner of the tender, thus enabling it to continue its real estate management activities including the implementation of the works proposed in the tender phase.

During 2021 and most of 2022, Cogenera was then in charge of the executive design of the works, which was followed by the aforementioned validation process.

In parallel to the design activities, Cogenera supported Siram in the completion of the authorization processes related to the construction (Provincial Single Authorization, VVF Project Examination, Electricity Connection modification, etc.), as well as drafting the energy diagnoses of all buildings on the Campus.

The most significant interventions subject to design were:

Energy efficiency improvement:

  • Construction of the new technology hub at the Campus, characterized by very high efficiency and capable of producing thermal, cooling and electrical energy through an “integrated system” in which the energy conversion process involves innovative technologies and renewable sources;
  • Replacement of lighting fixtures with new LEDs and DALI sensors at the Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences and Biology buildings (over 3000 lighting points);
  • New 74kW photovoltaic system on parking canopies and electric vehicle charging stations.

Plant upgrading and regulatory compliance:

  • Revamping of distribution networks and heat exchange substations of Campus buildings, equipping them with heat exchangers and variable capacity controllers;
  • Refurbishment of the medium-voltage power grid of the Campus’ SOUTH ring;
  • Refurbishment of the internal distribution networks of heat carrier fluids of the faculties of Chemistry and Earth Sciences;
  • Implementation of the monitoring system on all energy carriers (heat, cooling energy, electricity, methane gas, drinking water) and air quality of all buildings.

The centerpiece of the technology hub is the 1.5 MW electric tri-generation plant capable of supplying on an annual basis about 7600 MWh electric (covering 85% of requirements), 5500 MWh thermal (covering 55% of requirements) and 2700 MWh refrigeration (covering 40% of requirements). The share of cooling capacity required for summer air conditioning sees the absorber as the priority system and the sequential insertion of new magnetic levitation centrifugal compression chillers.

To supplement the thermal recoveries of the cogenerator, a system with high-temperature water-to-water heat pumps of about 1 MW fed with both groundwater for geothermal use and the low-temperature cooling systems of the turbine and engine flue gas was designed. The system, managed by supervision with an industrial PLC, once fully operational, will provide primary energy savings of around 27 percent compared to the current plant set-up with equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions.

For Cogenera, this has been a very challenging but exceedingly interesting project in several respects:

because of the multidisciplinary nature of the topics covered in the multitude of planned interventions;
because of the required project management activities related to the management of project processes, people and time;
for the extremely virtuous results in terms of energy efficiency that will lead (at the end of the works) to primary energy savings of about 27% compared to the current energy asset

We thank Siram for the opportunity.

Written by Daniele Brizzolari