PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon State University’s (OSU’s) Energy Center is believed to be the first university-based cogeneration plant in the United States to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Cogeneration plants are designed to concurrently produce both electricity and heat from the same fuel. Heery International served as commissioning agent for the $55 million plant, which replaced a failing 90-year-old steam plant. The new Energy Center will allow the university to generate approximately 50 percent of its electricity on-site, which should result in an annual savings of $650,000. The plant can also operate on a variety of liquid and fuel gas sources, including bio-fuels. This affords the university flexibility in choosing the lowest-cost fuel as market conditions change, and to use locally produced bio-fuels as they become available.

“Comparing our old steam plant with the new energy center is like contrasting 1880s steam boiler technology to a jet-engine turbine,” said Henry Alaman, OSU development manager. “There is a huge technological jump between the two and we wanted to give our staff all the tools to fully understand their new environment.”

As commissioning agent, Heery provided technical coordination and confirmed that any deficiencies were corrected. In addition, the firm provided the facilities staff with full functional training, providing mechanical and electrical fundamentals, and demonstrating not only how each individual system works, but how the plant works as a whole.

“OSU believes it is critical that each operator knows how to run the plant in the safest and most efficient way,” said Geoff Wampler, Heery commissioning agent. “We gave the staff a holistic view of the plant - each staff member received training on failure scenarios as well as how to operate and maintain the specialized systems and equipment. Essentially, we trained each of the boiler operators to become co-gen operators.”

Heery International is a 900-person architecture, interior design, engineering, program management, and construction management firm with offices nationwide. Since its inception 12 years ago, Heery said its West Region commissioning team has been responsible for commissioning or retro-commissioning over 425 projects, totaling more than 20 million square feet. As an affiliated company of Parsons Brinckerhoff, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, Heery now operates as that firm’s U.S. buildings operating company.

For more information, visit www.heery.com.

Publication date:03/07/2011