University of Oklahoma Project Profile
The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. Known for its academic excellence and strong sense of community, OU’s mission is to “provide the best possible educational experience for its students.”
Charged with maximizing reduced financial resources, and burdened with aging and inefficient utility infrastructure, OU’s Board of Regents solicited bids for the management, operation, maintenance, renewal and reconstruction of its multi-utility system.
Corix submitted a proposal that addressed the needs of OU’s six different utility systems while agreeing to retain the University’s utility system employees at comparable wages and benefits.
To begin, Corix undertook a comprehensive needs analysis, working closely with OU to understand the full scope of its objectives and challenges. Central to the task was preparing a long-term master capital plan for the upgrade of the existing infrastructure.
With a clear set of objectives in front of them, Corix and OU forged a comprehensive and innovative utility services agreement, making CORIX responsible for the university’s utility infrastructure until 2060. Corix will operate and maintain the utility systems, and manage and fund all future utility renewal, construction and capital improvements, enabling OU to increase budgetary control and certainty. Serving a population base of 26,000, OU’s utility infrastructure comprises:
Central Heat and Power Plant (Co-generation), and Heat Distribution System
Chilled Water Production and Distribution
Natural Gas Distribution
Potable Water Distribution
To ensure a successful changeover, Corix carefully monitored every element of the transition, a demanding, multi-faceted process that required transferring responsibility for the utility infrastructure – including its associated personnel, IT, financial and operational support systems – from OU to Corix. To help manage the changeover, Corix placed a senior transition manager on-site, starting six months in advance of the agreement’s closing date. The end result? In August 2010, all key components of the utility infrastructure were successfully transferred to Corix's custody, with 95% employee retention, no employee downtime, no loss of service, and no customer inconvenience logged.
In the initial year of operation, Corix conducted detailed surveys and condition assessments of the utility systems with a focus on optimizing and improving reliability and redundancy. Corix also integrated the existing Campus utility assets with a new 15 MW Co-gen and 10,000 ton Chilled Water Plant.
As a relatively self-contained community, OU represents an excellent opportunity for developing an “EcoDistrict”, an integrated, neighborhood-scale energy system that emphasizes sustainability. With this in mind, Corix is fostering a community-based approach to the University’s energy infrastructure while incorporating innovative technologies designed to maximize outputs, reduce waste and employ renewable resources.
The Bottom Line
By forging a 50-year utility services agreement with Corix, OU can direct its resources toward providing a superior educational environment. It is also positioned to reap several key benefits, including anticipated life cycle savings and a smaller environmental footprint.