Monitoring UBC’s hot water district energy system for leaks

The Academic District Energy System (ADES) is a highly efficient hot water district energy system that serves over 140 buildings across the UBC Vancouver campus. The ADES is fitted with a leak detection system which alarms against both hot water and ground water leaks through a protective insulation jacket. The system is monitored 24/7 by the Facilities team and enables the team to respond quickly and address leak repair prior to a catastrophic interruption.

Managing a complex network of piping and equipment

UBC Facilities has dedicated crews that monitor the ADES for leaks or faults. These faults are caused by water leaks or wiring shorts. The water leaks are either from ground water intrusion or water leaking from the underground Distribution Piping System (DPS), known as water extrusion.

The Facilities’ team in Energy & Water Services closely monitors the ADES and the amount of makeup water, or excess water that needs to be added to compensate for losses in the system. The team will then trouble shoot any issues that arise, and look for reasons why the DES water levels are dropping.

Locating and tracing the fault

Energy & Water Services uses a megger (Megohmmeter), an insulation resistance tester to measure the electrical resistance of insulators and a pipe locator to trace piping and locate the fault. These investigations will pinpoint a location to help the team start looking for the fault, which may often take months.

In April, the team discovered that our Leak Detection System (LDS) was indicating a fault located in front of the Bioenergy Research Demonstration Facility (BRDF). The team quickly mobilized and coordinated crews to excavate the underground DPS to locate the fault and complete a repair. The Steamfitter crew worked tirelessly to complete the repair and discovered the fault was actually a DES water leak, which the team has been investigating for several months why our water levels have been dropping. Thanks to their dedication and resources, our teams quickly repaired the issue, and avoided significant future costs for repairs.

A special shout out to Energy & Water Services’ Steamfitter crew for pinpointing and repairing  the fault, which allowed our teams to quickly repair the issue and avoid significant future costs for repairs.

Thank you to Michael Carroll, Steve BlackettTyler CudmoreBrett Harris and Norman Esplana for your dedication, hard work, and commitment to maintaining UBC’s district energy system.