Mercy Medical Center counts on Vicinity for reliable steam and chilled water expansion

Industry

Healthcare

Location

Baltimore, MD

Square footage

1.4 million

The customer

Mercy Medical Center is an acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital serving the downtown Baltimore community and beyond since 1874. Since its founding by the Sisters of Mercy, the hospital has helped shape downtown Baltimore and continues to provide award-winning patient care in women’s health, orthopedics, cancer care, digestive health, and more. With 183 licensed beds, this thriving health system proudly serves its community with prestigious doctors and leading Centers of Excellence. The facility is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, which employs over 200 providers with locations across Maryland. 

Mercy’s staff is dedicated to respecting the humanity of each patient and delivering high-quality care with warmth and compassion. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report, a top 100 hospital for women’s health and orthopedics by Healthgrades, and a Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Additionally, Mercy has ranked as one of the safest hospitals in the U.S., achieving an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. 

The challenge

As one of the top hospitals in Maryland, Mercy requires reliable energy solutions to meet its high demand for heating, sterilization, and chilled water to keep mission-critical operations up and running 24/7 and optimize patient comfort.  

After leveraging district energy for nearly sixty years, the Mercy team sought opportunities to support the hospital’s increasing energy load while achieving long-term energy resilience and cost savings. 

The solution

As one of Vicinity’s longest-standing partners, the Mercy team further demonstrated its trust in district energy by extending the hospital’s contract with Vicinity for over 20 years, expanding its chilled water service, and leveraging Vicinity experts for annual preventive maintenance. While Vicinity provides chilled water and steam for the hospital’s daily operations, Mercy can focus on fostering a community of compassionate care for patients. 

“The steam and chilled water services that Vicinity Energy provides are crucial to the operational efficiency of our hospital and support our mission to provide excellent and compassionate clinical care to all citizens of Baltimore,” states Mercy Medical Center’s Vice President of Support Services and Construction Robert Beckwith.

Tackling large capital projects with low upfront costs

Vicinity implemented improvements to existing steam infrastructure to drive system efficiencies, reduce energy costs, and decrease annual maintenance spending for Mercy. The project included the relocation and replacement of 900 feet of steam piping along Saratoga Street from Charles to Calvert. Vicinity also expanded and extended its chilled water system 550 feet east along Saratoga Street to serve Mercy and future customers in this section of Baltimore. The upgrade and replacement of existing steam mains along with the addition of new chilled water piping also brought about street beautification from Saratoga Street to Calvert Street with road repaving and aesthetic improvements to public spaces. While Vicinity invests in the Baltimore district energy system to optimize its efficiency and expand its reach throughout the city, Mercy and other Baltimore customers are able to reap the benefits of these upgrades with minimal upfront costs.  

Enhanced reliability for 24/7 patient care 

As part of this extended partnership, Vicinity supplies the Mercy campus with more chilled water from its central chilled water system, quadrupling the cooling output previously provided to the hospital. Vicinity also tied the district chilled water into Mercy’s existing chilled water facility to keep both resources available for guaranteed reliability. Vicinity’s interconnected central facilities, back-up generation, and multiple water and fuel sources deliver the reliability that Mercy and the Baltimore community depend upon. 

Reducing Baltimore’s carbon footprint 

District energy harnesses the power of a centrally located facility to generate cost-effective steam and hot and chilled water that yield greater efficiency, reliability, and carbon reductions over conventional generation, such as onsite boilers or chillers. Because Vicinity leverages renewables to generate approximately 50% of the steam delivered to Baltimore customers and 100% carbon-free electricity via emission-free energy certificates (EFECs), district energy helps reduce Mercy’s carbon footprint. In fact, district energy helps the City of Baltimore avoid 71,361 tons of carbon emissions annually. As Vicinity advances its electrification strategy across all its operations, customers, like Mercy, will continue to receive greener energy solutions and make strides towards decarbonization.   

Benefits

energy experts

Access to energy experts

99.99% reliability 

Meet stringent energy needs

Hotel Phillips leverages district energy to optimize guests’ experiences and lower its carbon footprint

Industry

Hospitality

Location

Kansas City, MO

Square footage

207,375

The customer

Opening its doors to guests in 1931, Hotel Phillips is an iconic Art Deco building located in the heart of downtown Kansas City. With 217 rooms, the 20-story landmark was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Many of the original details remain today, including the walnut paneling, intricate metalwork, a 20-story mail chute, Art Deco lighting fixtures, a speakeasy, and a gilded statue of the goddess Dawn. The hotel’s historic character, state-of-the-art amenities, and superior guest services provide a unique experience for all visitors.  

The challenge

Due to the building’s aging infrastructure and need for upgrades—mainly replacing the cooling tower—Hotel Phillips needed a cost-effective solution to provide efficient cooling to keep guests comfortable. The owners considered the complexity of chillers, the associated annual maintenance costs, and the staffing required for safe and efficient operation. Given these concerns, Hotel Phillips wanted to explore cooling options to reduce operational complexity and disruptive downtime. 

The solution

Since Vicinity already supplied Hotel Phillips with green steam for over two decades, switching to district chilled water rather than purchasing onsite chillers was a seamless and easy decision. To support the hotel in connecting to the chilled water system, Vicinity invested capital in the expansion project, including street repairs, landscaping, and beautification to benefit the surrounding Kansas City community. With Vicinity’s operations and maintenance (O&M) support and dedicated customer service, the hotel now benefits from improved operational efficiency, increased reliability, and expert help on demand. 

We’ve been very happy with our longstanding steam service from Vicinity, and look forward to the additional efficiency, reliability and peace of mind we can expect from their chilled water service. Keeping our guests comfortable is our number one priority and we’re also so proud to be reducing our carbon footprint in the process,” states Hotel Phillips General Manager John Glenn of Arbor Lodging Partners LLC. 

Reducing upfront capital investments 

The switch to Vicinity’s chilled water substantially reduced the hotel’s upfront capital expenses, associated operations, and maintenance costs. With a lower total cost of ownership than onsite chillers, Hotel Phillips can now repurpose funds and staff hours to core business operations, optimizing guests’ experiences.  

Achieving a lower carbon footprint beyond the building 

Swapping the hotel’s cooling tower with chilled water yields a sizeable reduction in the hotel’s water and energy consumption, resulting in a net environmental benefit to the city. As Vicinity advances its net zero carbon plan across all its operations, Kansas City customers, like Hotel Phillips, will continue to receive greener energy solutions and reduce their carbon footprint. Vicinity’s district energy system in Kansas City plays a pivotal role in creating a sustainable, cleaner future.

Benefits

capital savings icon

Upfront capital savings

99.99% reliability 

Less maintenance

Reliable green steam supports The Curtis’ office to lab conversion in Philadelphia

Industry

Life sciences

Location

Philadelphia, PA

Square footage

912,245

The customer

Situated near Independence Hall, The Curtis, founded in 1891 and owned by the Keystone Property Group, is a historic 12-floor, mixed-use building. From luxury living to collaborative office spaces and a wide range of retail and dining offerings, this revitalized Philadelphia icon also supports the city’s booming life sciences industry with its innovative lab facilities.

The challenge

Because of the city’s thriving life sciences scene, Keystone sought to convert The Curtis’ traditional office spaces to support lab research. From ventilation, space temperature, and humidity needs to sterilizing laboratory tools and equipment, laboratories have particular and stringent energy requirements to support continuous operations. Keystone’s existing onsite boiler could not handle the precise requirements necessary for laboratory research and the increasing energy demands of life science tenants. Keystone needed an alternative energy solution to serve the high-pressure, clean steam requirements to attract and support life science tenants’ needs.

The solution

To meet the unique energy needs and space requirements while ensuring peak reliability at The Curtis, Keystone turned to Vicinity’s district energy system for heating, reheating, sterilization, and humidification to support lab research.

“This is an exciting time for the life sciences industry in Philadelphia, and The Curtis’ conversion from office to lab space is at the forefront of the city’s life science sector. Thanks to the reliability and flexibility of district energy, tenants can be confident that our labs will maintain consistent 24/7 heating, reheating, sterilization, and humidification to meet the specific requirements needed to support their critical research,” states Keystone Property Group’s Senior Property Manager Sam Mattei. 

Empowering Keystone to meet each tenant’s needs

Keystone recognized the value of district energy in its scalability and capacity to deliver the uninterrupted—and sustainable—low-carbon thermal energy required for tenant lab spaces. Keystone can conveniently increase its steam demand to support additional floors if needed, without any additional upfront capital investment.

Supporting mission-critical needs

High-pressure steam is the preferred method of sterilization for state-of-the-art hospitals and research facilities across the globe. Vicinity reduces energy risk for The Curtis and offers 99.99% uptime energy delivery through interconnected central energy facilities with multiple power supplies, back-up generation, and several water and fuel sources in the event of interruptions to other utilities. Access to reliable and clean district steam allows the life science tenants to carry on their mission-critical research without compromising on productivity, safety, or results. 

Reducing Philadelphia’s carbon footprint

The partnership between Keystone and Vicinity drives sustainability in The Curtis and beyond, lowering the building’s carbon footprint and impact on the surrounding community. Because Vicinity’s district energy system relies on the highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) process and biogenic fuels to produce steam, The Curtis is able to avoid approximately 168 tons of carbon each year, the equivalent of removing 34 cars from the road. As Vicinity transitions to cleaner energy solutions and incorporates new technologies at Philadelphia’s central facilities, The Curtis will benefit from continuous greening solutions that will further cut carbon emissions.

Benefits

lower carbon

168 tons of annual carbon emission savings

99.99% reliability 

Meet stringent energy needs

Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium optimize visitors’ experiences with district energy

Industry

Sports and entertainment

Location

Baltimore, MD

Square footage

2.6 million

The customer

Located in downtown Baltimore, Oriole Park at Camden Yards became the official home of the Baltimore Orioles on April 6, 1992. Since then, more than 72 million fans have attended Orioles’ games, and millions more have attended concerts, festivals, meetings, tours, and community events held at the retro-style ballpark. 

Adjacent to Oriole Park is M&T Bank Stadium, a multi-purpose football arena and home to the Baltimore Ravens since its construction in 1998. It’s one of the most praised stadiums in the NFL for amenities, ease of access, concessions, and other facilities. 

As two of the most preeminent sports stadiums in the country, both facilities are LEED Gold certified (Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance) and feature state-of-the-art amenities. The stadiums are owned by Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA), a public corporation of the state that plans, finances, builds, and manages sports facilities, convention centers, entertainment venues, and other projects. MSA aims to promote historic preservation, adaptive reuse, community redevelopment, cultural arts, and civic pride throughout the state with its projects.  

The challenge 

Both stadiums leveraged the Baltimore district energy network for heating and domestic hot water for nearly 30 years since they opened. However, shortly after the construction completed on Oriole Park at Camden Yards, MSA sought an efficient cooling solution to support both stadiums. MSA needed an energy solution that would keep guests and employees comfortable in the various amenity spaces, including locker rooms, restaurant/café, suites, press areas, special event space and offices. 

The solution 

Rather than investing in chillers and cooling towers at both stadiums, the Maryland Stadium Authority decided to construct its own central chilled water facility that could simultaneously cool both stadiums due to their proximity. MSA supplemented its cooling with Vicinity’s chilled water system for the historic 45,000 square foot gateway station and museum located at the opening gates of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Driving reliability to guarantee optimal event experiences  

As the home for many events that draw large crowds, uninterrupted service is of utmost importance to MSA. Vicinity offers 99.99% uptime energy delivery through interconnected central energy facilities with multiple power supplies, back-up generation, and several water and fuel sources in the event of interruptions to other utilities. Also, Vicinity’s network incorporates thermal storage systems that produce chilled water from ice made using off-peak electricity—taking pressure off electrical grids during summer peak capacity periods and helping reduce electric capacity charges. With both Vicinity’s steam and chilled water, MSA can rest assured that staff and visitors are comfortable year-round, and there are no disruptions to events.  

Minimizing carbon impact 

The partnership between MSA and Vicinity drives efficiency and sustainability, lowering the stadiums’ carbon footprint. Vicinity leverages renewables to generate approximately 50% of the steam delivered to Baltimore customers and 100% carbon-free electricity via emission-free energy certificates (EFECs), enabling the two stadiums to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Even better, as Vicinity progresses its electrification strategy and incorporates new technologies at Maryland’s central facilities, the MSA can continue to promote sustainability at these two stadiums.

Benefits

lower carbon

Reduced carbon footprint

99.99% reliability 

Operations savings

The National Aquarium keeps its cool with Vicinity

Industry

Hospitality

Location

Baltimore, MD

Square footage

250,000

The customer

Ranked as one of the nation’s top aquariums by U.S. News & World Report, the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is home to thousands of species. From colorful exotic fish to diverse collections of plants and animals, like crocodiles, birds, and reptiles, the National Aquarium delivers a memorable experience for visitors.

The challenge

Spanning across two piers within the Inner Harbor seaport, the National Aquarium complex is home to nearly 20,000 aquatic animals, with over 700 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. The Aquarium requires a significant energy load because of the animals’ specific air and water temperature needs and the complex’s vast open spaces. To support the growing cooling needs of various exhibits and provide optimal comfort for visitors, the Aquarium needed an energy solution to supplement its cooling capacity back in 2001.

The solution

When looking for an energy solution with exceptional reliability, the Aquarium supplemented its cooling capacity through a long-term supply agreement with Vicinity. More recently, the Aquarium renewed this agreement for an additional twenty years, a testament to the Aquarium’s trust in Vicinity’s district chilled water service and clean energy mission.

“Through this partnership with Vicinity Energy, we are able to maintain the comfort of our visitors and support the delicate air and water temperature requirements of our aquatic plants and animals. The use of Vicinity Energy’s chilled water system… stands as a testament to the National Aquarium’s focus on sustainability and supports our mission to conserve the world’s aquatic treasures,” states John C. Racanelli, president and CEO of the National Aquarium.

Meeting precise energy needs

Vicinity supplies chilled water for roughly a dozen Aquarium exhibits, including the coral reef, kelp forest, anemones, puffins, and octopus. Since fluctuations in water temperature can cause stress and harm to the animals, the Aquarium uses the district chilled water system to prevent temperatures from fluctuating more than 2-3°F from the ideal temperature requirements for each exhibit. Certain species of seabirds, such as the Atlantic puffin, require cooler environments to mirror their native habitat in the northeastern Pacific. With the help of Vicinity’s chilled water, the water in the puffin exhibit is cooled to approximately 40 degrees °F, and the air temperature is set to a frosty 42 degrees °F.

Benefits

Precise energy needs

99.99% reliability 

Reduced maintenance effort and cost

Flashcube’s luxury apartments keep tenants comfortable year-round

Industry

Residential real estate 

Location

Kansas City, MO

Square footage

207,000

The customer

Constructed in 1974, the nine-story, 207,000 square foot Executive Plaza building epitomizes the late-modern architectural style. Due to its abstract reflective glass curtain wall, the building became known simply as “Flashcube.” This architecturally significant building earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a centerpiece of Kansas City.  

In 2020, the building underwent an extensive renovation, transforming from a vacant and outdated office building into luxury apartments. Today, Flashcube is home to 184 apartments and nearly 18,000 square feet of premier co-working office space. Tenants enjoy state-of-the-art amenities, including an indoor soccer field, rock climbing wall, indoor basketball courts, and a resident lounge and game room. 

The challenge

Because Flashcube sat vacant for more than 15 years, the onsite chillers and boilers were prohibitively expensive to resurrect. The plans to convert the building from office space to multi-family residences required a complete demolition of the interior space. This transformation presented many different mechanical system options for the owners to consider. The building owner also needed individual metering at each apartment to empower tenants to control their individual energy consumption and expenses.  

The solution

With an eye towards innovation, sustainability, and cost control, Flashcube’s owners explored a more reliable and cost-effective heating and cooling system. An extensive third-party analysis compared the lifecycle cost of onsite chillers and boilers, district energy, a water source heat pump system, variable refrigerant system technology, and a residential split system. When accounting for the costs of installation, maintenance, energy, water, and capital replacement cycles, it was determined that district energy provided the best overall lifecycle cost.  

Lower costs, higher reliability 

By choosing Vicinity’s district energy network, Flashcube’s new owners saw a reduction in construction costs by removing the need for onsite heating and cooling generation equipment, reutilization of existing piping, reduced electrical infrastructure, and tenant metering solutions. While reducing ongoing operating costs, district energy helped boost reliability for tenants.   

A multipurpose solution 

District energy helps keep Flashcube’s tenants comfortable and safe year-round. Vicinity’s district chilled water connects with simple heat exchangers to tenant fan coils, which eliminates the need for complex, large chillers and cooling towers onsite. District steam is used for building heat, domestic water heating, and a snow melt system, eliminating the need for large onsite boilers and water heaters. 

Reducing and reusing resources 

Rather than being discarded as waste, the condensate from the steam generation is used to pre-heat Flashcube’s domestic hot water and is then recycled as grey water to supply the building’s toilets. By recovering the steam condensate to heat the domestic hot water supply and grey water system, this steam biproduct saves money, energy, and city water. 

Repurposing space for tenant needs 

Another advantage of forgoing onsite chillers and boilers is new usable building space. By designing its heating and cooling needs around district energy, the owners of Flashcube have additional room for unique tenant amenities—all while leveraging an energy source that is driving carbon reductions. In fact, the mechanical and backup house space in the basement is now an inviting office space for tenants to access.  

Benefits 

Recycled
condensate

cost savings icon

Lifecycle cost savings

Maximized
building space 

Lifting Kansas City’s spirits with district energy

Industry

Industrial and manufacturing

Location

Kansas City, MO

Square footage

12,000

The customer

Within a renovated 19th century stable in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City is Lifted Spirits, a unique craft distillery and event space. Upstairs in their “Hayloft,” where horse feed and bedding were once stored, is a beautiful event space that customers can rent out to enjoy delicious spirits while making lasting memories. This former stable was constructed in the 1890s and converted into a high-end craft distillery in 2016. Ever since, Lifted Spirits has been a staple of the Kansas City community, featuring local artists’ work and hosting seasonal events. The distillery has even been recognized with awards from leading industry organizations, including the New York International Spirits Competition, International Spirits Competition, and American Distilling Institute.   

The challenge 

Lifted Spirits previously relied on a single onsite gas boiler to meet its energy needs. However, after a few years of navigating the complexities, repairs, and maintenance required to upkeep this aging equipment, the new owners sought an energy alternative. The challenge was finding an energy source that would reliably, cost-effectively, and sustainably supply proper control of heat and an abundance of hot water for the distilling process. 

The solution 

After evaluating the lifecycle costs of several energy options, Lifted Spirits’ owners decided that district energy was the optimal solution for meeting their heat and hot water needs, while also achieving significant energy savings. 

Reliable service for a precise distillation process 

Because the distillation process requires precise control for a significant amount of steam, a reliable and high-quality thermal energy source was crucial. Lifted Spirits chose Vicinity in part due to the 99.999% reliability rate associated with its resilient district energy system. 

High-quality food-grade steam 

In Kansas City, the district steam system generates food-grade steam, or culinary steam, to serve manufacturing and industrial customers who use steam in the production of food-related products. Culinary steam is necessary for the distillation process to ensure that Lifted Spirits continues to produce high-quality beverages. Providing a consistent, high-quality product is critical to Lifted Spirits’ overall business and brand reputation, helping drive customer loyalty.  

Achieving cost-savings 

After considering alternative boiler options and comparing the costs and efficiencies of each, Lifted Spirits chose Vicinity’s district energy system to achieve more competitive energy pricing and eliminate labor costs associated with boiler operations. Through a simple connection to the Kansas City district system funded by Vicinity, the distillery now enjoys cost effective thermal energy with minimal upfront capital costs. 

Freeing up mechanical space for business operations 

Without Lifted Spirits’ onsite gas boiler, the owners are able to leverage the added interior space for core business operations. Because the distillery hosts tours, tastings, and custom events, every square foot of space is valuable to enhance Lifted Spirits’ business operations and customers’ experiences.  

Benefits

Precise steam control

cost savings icon

Lifecycle and upfront cost savings

Maximized building space 

Food-grade, clean steam​

operations savings icon

Less maintenance

99.99% reliability  ​

Two Liberty Place mitigated capital costs with district steam

Industry

Residential real estate

Location

Philadelphia, PA

Square footage

1.2 million

The customer

With its memorable tiered glass roof, Two Liberty Place is an iconic part of Philadelphia’s Center City. At 57 stories tall and 1.2 million square feet, Two Liberty Place is the city’s fourth tallest building and one of the two towers of the Liberty Place complex. Designed by the legendary architect Helmut Jahn, Two Liberty Place has been an iconic mainstay of Philadelphia’s skyline for more than three decades. The high-rise building originally housed corporate offices, but was later converted to a mixed-use property with luxury residential condominiums.

Coretrust Capital Partners (Coretrust), a private real estate investment management company, acquired this architectural gem in October 2016.

The challenge

When Coretrust acquired the building, they faced an aging energy infrastructure. The skyscraper’s onsite electric hot water boilers were 30 years old and exhibited declining reliability issues, presenting an expensive upfront capital investment if Coretrust replaced the equipment. Given the building’s heating demand and limited capital funds, searching for an affordable and reliable energy solution was critical.

The solution

With six outdated and inefficient electric boilers, Coretrust and the property management partner, CBRE, opted for Vicinity’s green steam to heat the building over local natural gas and electricity providers. The result was a cost-effective, energy-efficient solution.

Avoiding upfront capital expenditure

By choosing district steam, Coretrust avoided replacing its onsite electric boilers with new, expensive infrastructure, which resulted in avoiding high upfront costs for both Coretrust and the building condo owners. Vicinity’s deep financial resources helped Coretrust connect to the district energy network at a minimal cost, enabling them to provide an affordable and reliable energy solution for tenants. The Coretrust team then redirected this capital for other initiatives and improvements to the building to add value for tenants.

Preserving a finite resource

At Vicinity’s suggestion, Two Liberty incorporated a vertical flooding MCU model heat exchanger. This approach keeps exhaust at low enough temperatures that additional city water isn’t required for cooling, saving additional costs and Philadelphia’s precious freshwater resources.

Driving tenant retention with sustainability

Powered by a highly efficient energy process called combined heat and power (CHP), district steam helps Two Liberty achieve its sustainability goals. Because CHP systems require less fuel to produce the same energy output as single heat and power systems, they reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

District energy helps Two Liberty avoid approximately 1,186 tons of annual carbon emissions, equivalent to removing about 237 vehicles from the roads yearly.

Benefits

capital savings icon

Upfront capital savings

Meeting stringent
energy needs

lower carbon

1,186 tons of annual
carbon emission savings

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital taps into reliable chilled water

Industry

Healthcare

Location

Philadelphia, PA

Square footage

1.7 million

The customer

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the flagship hospital of Jefferson Health, a multi-state, nonprofit health system based in Philadelphia, PA. With 925 beds, the hospital is renowned for providing excellent clinical and compassionate care for patients in the region. The facility serves as a teaching hospital for Thomas Jefferson University, a private research institution with a rich legacy dating back to 1824.

The challenge

As an innovative university and healthcare provider of the greater Philadelphia area, Thomas Jefferson University and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (Jefferson) wanted to grow and renew its utility infrastructure to enhance its cooling capacities. Due to the critical importance of the campus’ daily operations, finding a highly reliable, efficient, and cost-effective solution that could meet stringent requirements was paramount. Due to capital constraints, the institution also required a financing solution to advance these capital improvements.

The solution

To accommodate the institution’s energy-intensive operations, Vicinity designed, financed, and built a central chilled water facility at Jefferson. Vicinity operates and maintains the central chilled water plant consisting of cooling towers, chilled water and condensing water pumps, electric switchgear, an emergency generator, and 2,000 feet of chilled water pipes. With 7,000 tons of chilled water capacity, the plant supplies the campus with the reliable cooling it needs to carry out mission-critical operations.

Access to capital

With a $24 million capital cost, Vicinity provided a financing solution for this major investment project on behalf of Jefferson. Due to access to low-cost financing solutions through Vicinity’s parent company, Jefferson was able to benefit from reliable, precise chilled water service without the upfront capital expense that would have been incurred from self-development. In this way, the institution could better allocate available investment capital on core functions.

Meeting reliability needs with trusted operations and maintenance

Vicinity’s cooling solution ensures that operations are running with a 99.99% reliability guarantee with support from Vicinity’s dedicated team of energy experts at all times. In partnership with the customer, Vicinity’s ongoing maintenance program also optimizes the chilled water facility’s performance to better conserve energy and reduce energy costs. Cooling tower maintenance activities includes replacing oil in gearboxes to prevent friction and corrosion; performing vibration analysis to mitigate risks related to increased noise, safety concerns, and system inefficiencies; inspecting and repairing distribution spray pipes and nozzles; cleaning basins; and upgrading fan blades and drive shafts as needed.

Chiller maintenance includes inspecting all chiller and condenser pumps; cleaning and servicing all variable frequency drives (VFDs) and glycol heat exchangers, the equipment used to cool VFDs; taking oil samples and adjusting levels; and cleaning condenser tubes to maximize equipment lifespan and improve overall energy efficiency. This thorough preventative maintenance program allows Jefferson to focus on the critical work the community depends on with uninterrupted attention and care.

Benefits

capital savings icon

Capital savings

energy experts

Access to energy experts

Less maintenance

How a biotech company’s life-saving research is supported by microgrid O&M solutions

Industry

Life sciences

Location

Cambridge, MA

Square footage

650,000

The customer

Located in Cambridge, MA, a biotechnology company is a global leader in research and development. Spanning a campus of more than 650,000 square feet of laboratory, research, and office space, the company is at the forefront of discovery. This innovative biotechnology company is dedicated to developing cutting-edge treatments to combat diseases while promoting equity and sustainability. The company’s ESG targets, including zero fossil fuel emissions from operations, further highlight its commitment to protect people and the planet.

The challenge

Due to the critical nature of the company’s work and the campus’ large building footprint, the company required an energy solution and alternative to the high cost and poor reliability of its existing local utility services. The existing campus’ thermal energy system was subject to a single point of failure, putting life-saving research at risk to outages. This biotechnology company sought a new energy solution that it could rely on 24/7 to ensure no disruptions to daily mission-critical operations. That’s where Vicinity stepped in.

The solution

Vicinity helped manage the construction and commissioning of a 5.3-megawatt (MW) combined heat and power (CHP) facility for this major biotechnology company and serves as the facility’s long-term operator. CHP is an efficient process that captures waste heat generated from electricity production and converts it into usable thermal energy. As part of the biotechnology company’s microgrid—or small electrical grid that can power multiple buildings either in parallel with or independently from other electric utilities—the CHP runs silently below the Cambridge campus, supplying electricity and high-pressure steam for heating, maintaining stringent humidification levels, and providing sterilization of research equipment, including autoclaves and cages.

Mission-critical reliability

As the operations and maintenance (O&M) provider of the biotechnology company’s microgrid, Vicinity assisted the customer in developing an electrical load shed scheme to accommodate unexpected outages and to prioritize critical loads in research spaces. This strategy ensures the company has control of when and where energy flows through their campus so that there are no surprises or disruptions in their business. As an added reliability assurance, Vicinity’s Cambridge steam network supplies the campus with back-up thermal service.

Optimizing energy efficiency

The CHP facility provides the campus with reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective energy across its campus. Vicinity’s O&M team is also adept at keeping the campus’ energy system working at peak performance, which extends the equipment’s lifetime and results in significant energy efficiency. In fact, the biotechnology company has reduced its annual energy consumption by 25%.

Furthermore, because the campus is connected to Vicinity’s district energy system as a back-up energy source, it can reap the benefits of the electrification upgrades Vicinity makes to our central facilities. As Vicinity incorporates renewable energy sources into our operations, any customer, like this biotechnology company, can join our decarbonization journey.  

A trusted and dedicated support team

Vicinity experts were involved in all stages of the initial CHP project—including feasibility and business plan development, equipment selection, negotiation for grid interconnection, fuel supply provisioning, and environmental permitting and commissioning. Currently, Vicinity provides O&M services with a five-member onsite team, working in close collaboration with the biotechnology company. Vicinity’s O&M team manages the maintenance of steam and electrical equipment within campus buildings and manholes on campus. By outsourcing these services to Vicinity’s energy O&M experts, the biotechnology company has access to a pool of knowledge and can focus on what matters most: innovating new cutting-edge treatments for diseases.

Benefits

energy experts

Access to energy experts

99.99% reliability 

cost savings icon

Lifecycle and upfront cost savings

Providing critical
energy needs

Redundant energy
sources

sterilization humidification

Sterilization of equipment