How a large, award-winning Boston hospital delivers safety and reliable patient care with Vicinity





Boston, MA

Square footage


The customer

Located in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, this world-renowned leader in medicine provides top-quality research and out-patient care. Recognized with multiple distinctions by the U.S. News & World Report, the hospital has a long history of providing quality and compassionate patient care. As part of an integrated healthcare system, the hospital strives to achieve systemwide sustainability goals, including reducing its carbon footprint, incorporating the intersection of climate and health into training, decreasing food waste, and more.

The challenge

In 2016, the hospital added research and clinical space to accelerate breakthroughs in its research and patient care for neurologic, orthopedic, and rheumatologic conditions—critical operations that rely on an uninterrupted energy supply. In addition to this new facility, an adjacent medical building also needed energy services—for a total of 620,000 square feet of research and patient space. The hospital sought an experienced energy provider that could provide 24/7 reliable service. The hospital’s top concerns and priorities were reliability, efficiency, and safety.

The solution

As part of the plans for the new building, a 4-megawatt combined heat and power (CHP) facility was constructed to support the campus’ heating, domestic hot water, and power needs. CHP simultaneously generates steam and electricity, and the onsite facility can support 80% of the two building’s energy needs. In combination with the CHP, the hospital’s two boilers provide steam at 54,000 lbs/hour. To ensure that the energy facility delivers uninterrupted energy to carry out the hospital’s mission-critical operations, the hospital selected Vicinity to manage operations and maintenance (O&M).

Reliability when it matters most

As a microgrid—a power network that can operate independently from the electric grid—Vicinity can operate the CHP facility in island mode via a black-start sequence to ensure an uninterrupted energy supply, meaning they can restart without the aid of external electrical transmission. This approach helps the hospital minimize risk in the event that there is an unforeseen grid outage, eliminating disruptions to vital patient care and research.

Delivering operational savings and peak efficiencies

Because the hospital is producing its own energy in-house, it was able to recoup its investment in the CHP within several years. Vicinity’s O&M delivers added savings and maximum efficiencies by leveraging a lifecycle approach, a thorough commissioning startup plan, a preventive maintenance program, and performance guarantees.

Driving continuous improvement with expert operations and maintenance

By outsourcing long-term operation, management, and maintenance to Vicinity, the hospital has access to a pool of knowledge and can focus on advancing its core mission. In collaboration with the hospital, Vicinity proactively identifies opportunities for improvement and implements creative solutions in a condensed timeframe. These ongoing maintenance projects help extend the life expectancy of the hospital’s energy equipment; ensure uninterrupted and reliable service; and make the hospital safer for employees, visitors, and patients.

Examples of impactful preventative maintenance projects Vicinity completed in partnership with the hospital include:

    • Steam header warm-up: Vicinity designed and installed a steam header warm-up system that properly warms up each line of the steam header. This is an important upgrade as it collects steam generated from the boilers and eliminates any pressure drops between the boiler and the connected steam lines, ensuring a proper warm-up of all steam lines and extending the life expectancy of the steam system’s isolation valve.
    • Air compressor dryer systems: Vicinity helped interconnect air compressor dryer systems with refrigerant dryer air, improving the air systems’ efficiency by 15-20%. Leveraging refrigerant dryer air eliminates moisture in the air compressor dryer systems, which can damage system equipment overtime.
    • Chemical injection ports: Vicinity installed chemical injection ports in each boiler to improve their longevity by ensuring each boiler maintains the correct chemistry at all times.
    • Redundant equipment: As Vicinity identifies single point of failure areas on an ongoing basis, the O&M team addresses them in a systematic fashion in collaboration with the hospital. These projects include redundant cooling pumps, redundant facility air compressors that are used for plant control air, redundant starting air compressors used to start the CHP engine, and modification of the deaerator and condensate tank piping to allow for maximum redundancy in the event a failure occurs in either tanks. 
    • Variable Frequency Drive (VFD): Currently, Vicinity is optimizing the facilities’ condensate and feedwater pumps by installing VFDs, devices that control the speed of electric motors by adjusting the frequency and voltage of the power. This approach will allow the pumps to ramp up or down based on need, enabling the hospital to utilize them at lower rates and save on energy costs. 


lower carbon

Reduced carbon footprint

97.74% reliability 

operations savings icon

Operations savings

energy experts

Access to energy experts

Meeting stringent
energy needs

Improved safety