State utility plant achieves highest possible 'green' rating, improves energy efficiency, reduces operating costs

Sacramento's central utility plant, which provides chilled water and steam to cool and heat 23 state-owned buildings in downtown Sacramento, has become the third state facility to receive LEED Platinum status...

Sep 20th, 2011
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New steam heating plant improves overall heating system operating efficiency. Photo by DGS.

SACRAMENTO, CA, Sept. 20, 2011 -- Sacramento's central utility plant, which provides chilled water and steam to cool and heat 23 state-owned buildings in downtown Sacramento, has become the third state facility to receive LEED Platinum status, the highest level of "green" building design certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

"This central plant is one of the most efficient of its kind in the nation," said Department of General Services Director Fred Klass. "It enables us to continue to reduce energy use in state buildings, as well as cut operating costs."

The facility, which replaced the original plant built in 1968, was designed and built to provide safer and more reliable heating and cooling to state buildings, expand capacity, improve energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. The plant features highly efficient gas-fired steam boilers along with cooling equipment outfitted with variable-speed electric chillers and cooling towers.

Thermal Energy Storage tank stores 4.2 million gallons of chilled water to meet daytime cooling requirements by supplying chilled water to 23 state buildings in Sacramento. Tank cuts energy demand by reducing chiller operation during the day. This allows chillers to generate low-cost chilled water during night time hours. The stored chilled water is used during hottest part of the day. Photo by DGS.
DGS estimates that this year alone, the state's new plant has saved more than 4.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity and approximately $679,000, when compared to a plant of similar size, not built to the same 'green' standards.

The new plant also utilizes on-site renewable energy, including solar photovoltaic panels mounted in the parking area that generate power for the facility's office and support areas, as well as domestic hot water.

"This recognition by the USGBC is just another example of our efforts to obtain LEED certification throughout our entire building portfolio," added Klass.

In addition to the central plant, two other state facilities have achieved the Green Building Council's highest certification level: the CalEPA building and the Department of Education building; both located in Sacramento. To date, approximately 50 state facilities are LEED certified.

Full view of 4.2 million gallon thermal energy storage tank which meets daytime cooling requirements by supplying chilled water to 23 state buildings in Sacramento. Tank cuts energy demand by reducing chiller operation during the day. This allows chillers to generate low-cost chilled water during night time hours. The stored chilled water is used during hottest part of the day. Photo by DGS.
The plant was constructed using the design-build method of project delivery in which one entity - the design-build team of Skanska USA Building Inc. - works under a single contract with the project owner - DGS - to provide design and construction services with the goal of reducing risks and overall costs.

Other construction partners included Sacramento's Nacht and Lewis Architects, San Francisco's Flack and Kurtz, plus Lawson Mechanical and Redwood City Electric and a host of other designers and subcontractors working with the state and its major consultants, Capitol Engineering Consultants Inc. and Lionakis Beaumont Design Group, and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.

Chillers provide chilled water for cooling and are equipped with variable frequency drives to minimize energy use and costs. Photo by Calif. DGS
The Department of General Services acts as the business manager for the State of California. DGS helps state government better serve the public by providing services to state agencies including procurement and acquisition solutions, real estate management, leasing and design services, environmentally friendly transportation, and architectural oversight and funding for the construction of safe schools.

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