Howard University

Washington, D.C.

Howard University called on ACI’s ASME-certified team to get their hospital centers back online with a chiller plant optimization plan after a damaging cold snap.

Challenge: Getting Critical Systems Back Online in Cold Snap

Howard University, a leading university located in Washington, D.C., has over 12,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students on a 257-acre campus with a complex network of hospital and student facilities. A central plant with eight boilers supports the entire campus.

Howard University’s students and patients rely on their complex HVAC system to remain operational. The university needed a partner to provide rapid-response emergency service during abnormally cold conditions in the winter of 2017. The cold snap caused numerous issues throughout their facilities, including failing boilers, gas valves that needed replacement, and pipes that were too damaged by the cold to distribute steam. Getting the hospitals back online was an urgent priority. Howard engaged ACI, and we quickly responded with top technicians and leading HVAC solutions to support the university’s critical systems.


When both centrifugal chillers were operating, the 750-ton chiller return temperature was the same as the return secondary water temperature, but at the same time the return water temperature to the 400-ton chiller was at a lower mixed water temperature. This condition caused the 400-ton chiller to operate at a much lower percentage of design load than the 750-ton chiller. The York 400-ton constant speed centrifugal chiller runs inefficiently at low loads. If this chiller was variable speed, it would operate very efficiently at low loads.


ACI was quick to respond with an ASME-certified team that mobilized eight self-contained 100HP high-pressure mobile boiler rooms to the job site. The team quickly identified the customer’s needs and recommended high-efficiency satellite boilers. Welder and apprentice crews were ready to provide re-tubing services at any hour.


As a direct result of the quality service they received, Howard University engaged ACI long-term as a trusted partner that can be relied on to keep their complex facilities running. The temporary boilers and piping have since been replaced with permanent solutions, and ACI continues to provide routine maintenance and rapid-response emergency service as needed.

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