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



Life sciences


Cambridge, MA

Square footage


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.


energy experts

Access to energy experts

99.99% reliability 

cost savings icon

Lifecycle and upfront cost savings

Providing critical
energy needs

Redundant energy

sterilization humidification

Sterilization of equipment