GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gainesville Regional Utilities and Shands HealthCare are celebrating the culmination of a unique partnership to build and operate a state-of-the-art, combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Gainesville, Fla. The companies hosted a dedication ceremony today for the GRU South Energy Center, the new 4.3-megawatt facility that will provide all of the electric, cooling, heating and medical-gas needs of the Shands Cancer Hospital at the University of Florida when it opens on Nov. 1.
"We are pleased to partner with Shands HealthCare in this exciting medical project that will benefit the entire community and region. Our partnership is mutually beneficial to both parties and is a logical extension of our traditional model for distribution and generation of electricity," said Bob Hunzinger, GRU general manager.
The new facility is one of the only CHP plants in the Southeast capable of providing 100 percent of a hospital's energy needs. During power outages, most hospitals must shift to smaller, emergency generators and shed power loads of some major equipment to maintain critical power to patient care. The 192-bed cancer hospital will not face that challenge because the energy center is located on-site and feeds electricity to the hospital through underground lines. Additionally, the hospital is connected to a back-up generator within the power plant and to two electrical feeds from the surrounding power grid that provide 200 percent redundancy.
"Our partnership with GRU has resulted in very creative, forward-thinking solutions to our energy challenges," said Tim Goldfarb, Shands HealthCare CEO. "Together, our companies focused on progressive energy-saving practices and developed a best-practice model that will benefit our community and hopefully others as well."
The power plant is equipped with unique technology that maximizes efficiency and greatly reduces emissions. Traditional energy-supply models result in 71 percent of energy loss as they rely on conventional generation plants and distribution lines. In contrast, the GRU South Energy Center will deliver 75 percent of the energy generated by using a Mercury 50 natural-gas-fired combustion turbine located close to the hospital. The power plant's efficiency is further enhanced by capturing the hot exhaust from the turbine and using it to produce steam that is then used to run the hospital's heating and cooling systems. The projected annual energy savings is equal to the power needed to run more than 3,000 homes.
Shands HealthCare built the Shands Cancer Hospital at UF using materials and designs to maximize energy efficiency and is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification. The hospital is expected to become one of a handful of hospitals nationwide to be Gold-certified, in large part, due to the innovation credits it will receive from the energy partnership with GRU.
"This project puts Gainesville in the forefront of innovative technology, as we are one of the first utilities to build such a facility for a hospital," Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said. "It is a great honor for the City of Gainesville to partner with Shands to provide a power plant that will set a standard for energy efficiency."
Engineering, architecture and construction firm Burns & McDonnell designed and built the energy center to blend into the overall design aesthetic of the new Shands at UF South Campus — an extension of the existing Shands at UF North Campus — and to be expandable to meet Shands HealthCare's future growth plans for the academic medical center. GRU will own and operate the facility for 50 years under the terms of the agreement and will occupy the land under a 99-year lease.
Gainesville Regional Utilities
GRU is a community-owned, multi-service utility in Gainesville, Fla., providing electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications services to approximately 92,000 retail and wholesale customers. GRU's combined services make it the most comprehensive utility service provider in the state. As an engaged participant in a progressive community, GRU is committed to becoming a national leader in energy efficiency. GRU is Florida's leading utility in establishing long term energy efficiency goals and in helping their customers reduce energy consumption.
Shands Cancer Hospital at the University of Florida
The Shands Cancer Hospital at UF will open on Nov. 1, 2009, as an extension of Shands at the University of Florida on the Shands at UF South Campus. The new $388-million, 500,000-square-foot facility will house 192 private patient beds for a variety of inpatients, including those receiving diagnostic and therapeutic oncology services. It also will include the Shands Critical Care Center for emergency and trauma services.
Burns & McDonnell
Burns & McDonnell provides engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting services to clients throughout North America and abroad. More than 3,000 engineers, architects, scientists, planners, estimators, economists, technicians and other professionals work in 20 offices throughout the United States. Founded in 1898, Burns & McDonnell is 100 percent employee-owned. In January 2009, Burns & McDonnell was named by FORTUNE magazine as one of America's "100 Best Companies to Work For."