When Duke University’s East Campus steam plant was built in 1927, it was a major accomplishment of its time. For about 50 years, the plant’s coal-fired boilers supplied steam to heat the Durham, NC, campus until the plant closed in 1978. From that point, the West Campus Steam Plant held the burden to carry the load of both campuses in an attempt to become more efficient and cost-effective.
The university experienced exponential growth over the next few decades and needed to increase steam capacity to keep up. In 2007, the decision was made to renovate and retrofit the East Campus Steam Plant with cost-effective and energy-efficient boilers that could grow with the university. Also, in 2008, Duke University expanded its sustainability initiatives to include a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases as part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment — which asks schools to develop a Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions and strive for climate neutrality.