Utility Distribution


Most of us go about our daily business and don’t give much thought to the major utilities until one or more do not work. The lights won’t turn on; there’s no hot water in the Wooden Center; storm water is backing up and causing a traffic jam on Tiverton; how can I make coffee with no water? All these utility distribution systems are supplied and maintained by Facilities Management.

Electricity powers the lights, natural gas or electricity heats our water supply, the labyrinth of sewer systems safely remove waste from the campus and water supply systems deliver clean water to your buildings.

Electric Power Generation, Transmission & Distribution

Eighty five percent of the electrical power at UCLA is produced by the 86,000 square foot cogeneration plant officially named the Energy Systems Facility. The plant is operated by a third party under the contract to Facilities Management. Off campus locations and several buildings on the southernmost part of campus are powered directly by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). 

Once the electricity leaves the four walls of the plant, the campus distribution and auxiliary systems are maintained by Facilities Management. Electricity is supplied to campus space through a network of over 275 large electrical transformers. (One transformer can power the equivalent of 3 residential city blocks.) Power interruptions can happen at a variety of sources ranging from the DWP grid down to your individual power outlet. The plant operators and campus electricians work together very closely to ensure delivery of reliable energy to the campus. 

Chilled Water and Steam

The Energy Systems Facility produces chilled water for cooling and steam for heating. The product is distributed to over 60 campus buildings through a network of 12 miles of chilled water lines and 8 miles of high pressure steam distribution lines. As with the electrical output, once the chilled water and steam leave the plant, maintenance and repair are the responsibility of Facilities Management. The distribution systems are primarily maintained by the plumbing and engineer shops. Generally, plumbers maintain the piping delivery systems and the engineers manage the HVAC and special equipment served by chilled water and steam.

Water, Sewage & Other Systems

Water is supplied to the Campus by LADWP. When the water reaches campus, the maintenance and repair of the entire campus system rests with Facilities Management. UCLA is the second largest user of water in the LADWP system. Enough pressure must be maintained in the system to provide adequate pressure to the top of the tallest buildings, yet be kept low enough to avoid causing damage to the system. The water distribution system is designed in a general grid pattern with miles of piping, so that if there are any failures, buildings can be continuously fed from another portion of the system. As water enters each building, it is split to feed all types of systems including bathrooms, labs, fire sprinklers, cooling and heating systems, and drinking fountains. Each system is protected so that there can be no cross-connection or contamination. There are approximately 500 of these devices on campus that must be tested and maintained regularly. Facilities Management is currently exploring ways to save water including converting fixtures to higher efficiency fixtures and reclaiming water when possible.

With the large amount of water that UCLA uses, the sewer system has to be quite extensive as well. Facilities Management employs a crew full time to maintain the sewer system and there is always work to do. Facilities Management complies with all of the state mandates for testing wastewater and reporting that which is required. As the campus grows, the demand on the system grows as well.

Natural Gas Distribution

Natural gas, a clear odorless gas, enters the campus in a variety of locations. It has been given an additive by the Southern California Gas Company before it reaches us so it can be detected. Its primary purpose is to fuel the cogeneration plant, yet it is used in all of the kitchens and in most of the labs on campus. The demand for gas has decreased over the years as steam has proven to be a more cost effective way to provide heat where needed. UCLA makes use of methane gas from a local landfill to defray the cost of natural gas in helping to fuel the cogeneration plant. This is one way that Facilities Management has taken advantage of alternative energy sources. 

Other Systems

Even a minor disruption in power or water can affect other important building equipment such as fire alarms, fire sprinklers, elevators, vacuum and compressed air systems. In addition to the very comprehensive preventive maintenance programs for such equipment, each piece of equipment that may have been affected by power outage, loss of water or flooding is inspected to ensure life safety and expedite the return to service.

Utility Distribution
Phone: (310) 206-3856 | Fax: (310) 206-4223 | Mail Code: 152608

Energy Services & Utilities
Facilities Management Building, Suite 3120
731 Charles E. Young Drive South
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1526