This power plant tour is a little quieter

This is the time of year Iowa State's utilities staff sees its first uptick in requests for power plant tours. Assistant director for utility plant operations Lindsey Wanderscheid estimates up to 800 students -- engineering, environmental studies, design, economics and more -- tour the main plant each year for a class or student organization activity.

It's part of the utilities staff's outreach to the campus community, but because in-person tours are on hold this semester, the staff, led by engineer Jon Fleming, instead created two virtual options that feature slides and video with voiced commentary. The first, about 50 minutes long, is a presentation that covers topics such as:

  • What the university's utility system does, including the concept of cogeneration
  • Campus buildings' energy use and how it has changed over the years
  • Fuels burned on campus
  • Power plant emissions
  • Renewable energy
  • Energy costs

In just 35 minutes, the second option tours three of the university's four utility production facilities: main power plant, north chilled water plant and the plant at the College of Veterinary Medicine campus. Wanderscheid said the fourth plant, at the Applied Sciences Complex, has similar equipment to the Vet Med facility and was excluded for brevity.

The presentations are filed in CyBox; faculty and staff who want to share one or both with campus audiences should contact Wanderscheid,, for the link information.