Powerful Project
Powerful Project
Powerful Project
3 minute read

Burns & McDonnell provided design, utility master planning and construction administration services for a new central utility plant (CUP), which will provide all essential thermal, electric, water and emergency utilities for the new Parkland Hospital.


Parkland Hospital delivers more than 12,000 babies, accommodates more than 18,000 surgeries, treats more than 37,000 inpatients, conducts more than 429,000 radiology exams, fills more than 7.8 million prescriptions and performs more than 9.5 million lab tests each year.

And more are on the way.

The hospital in Dallas is preparing to move into a new, larger health care campus across the street. The $1.27 billion campus is scheduled for completion next year and opening in 2015.

Burns & McDonnell provided design, utility master planning and construction administration services for a new central utility plant (CUP), which will provide all essential thermal, electric, water and emergency utilities for the campus covering 2.7 million square feet.


The campus will be anchored by a new 1.9 million-square-foot acute-care hospital with 862 private beds for adults, 96 beds for neonatal intensive care, 24 operating rooms (plus three more shelled) and all the space, features and services to meet the needs of more than 30,000 people expected to pass through its doors each day. Parkland describes itself as the "safety net hospital" for Dallas County, caring for people with nowhere else to turn — either because of the complexity of their cases or financial need — in the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.

Construction started in 2010. With the county's population expected to double by 2025, the new Parkland Hospital campus is expected to meet an ever-expanding list of community health needs.

"We don't want to build a hospital of the future," said Walter Jones Jr., senior vice president of facilities at Parkland. "We want to build a hospital for the future."

Parkland simply can't shut down. The existing building — a public hospital built 59 years ago and remodeled in the years since President Kennedy was treated in Trauma Room 1 after his assassination — is the region's first and busiest Level 1 trauma center, counted on to be open and operational during natural disasters and other emergencies. Parkland already sees more than 1,600 patients a day for primary care, including nearly 500 in the Emergency Department, and is home to the second-largest civilian burn unit in the country.

Keeping such services and personnel online requires more than a typical dose of power.


In early 2010, Parkland hired Burns & McDonnell to plan and design the new campus' CUP, which would need to be sustainable, flexible and, most of all, reliable.

The firm's OnSite Energy & Power practice delivered a CUP designed to meet all three goals.

Parkland called for the CUP to be capable of providing necessary utilities even if outside feeds for water, natural gas or electricity — or all three — were lost for up to 36 hours.

The OnSite team built such reliability into the CUP with components including:

  • An 850,000-gallon water storage tank, big enough to keep the hospital's cooling tower functional while filling faucets, sterilization equipment and other systems with adequate water.
  • Generators capable of producing 17.5 MW of emergency power, in case all four redundant power feeds coming into the hospital, from two independent substations, are knocked out.
  • Boilers able to deliver 230,000 pounds of steam. The low-emissions boilers run on natural gas or, if that supply is lost, up to 40,000 gallons of diesel fuel stored on site.

"Essentially, you have to be able to operate in island mode for 36 hours," said Scott Williams, an OnSite senior mechanical engineer and project manager who led planning, design and construction administration of heating systems. "Reliability was the No. 1 goal."

Regarding sustainability, the plant's heat pump chiller — expected to save 15 million gallons of water annually and pay for itself in four to six years — is among features that will help the entire campus pursue designation as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver through the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

"The heat pump chiller represents a key advantage moving forward into a future when water availability may be a challenge and prices are projected to spike significantly," said Jeff Easton, a senior mechanical engineer and project manager with the OnSite team who oversaw planning, design and construction administration for the plant's cooling systems.

Flexibility is built into the structure itself: There's room for a sixth chiller, a seventh boiler and another generator, all to provide space for expansion without requiring expansion of the building itself. A spare equipment bay is set aside for whatever future technology might materialize. Storage spaces were designed for easy conversion into office space, and overhead monorails and a mezzanine-style second floor allow for easy movement of equipment.


Burns & McDonnell finished the project on time and within budget. The job included a number of adjustments, including an early decision to expedite selected utility installations, which in turn enabled work on the new hospital.

"Their team moved seamlessly into design and developed top-notch documents for construction," said Maria Dierking, who served as Parkland's senior program manager for the hospital replacement program. "Throughout the process, they worked closely with the entire hospital staff and design team and helped us to maximize the value of our installed systems versus the available budget."

The CUP project has given the OnSite group momentum as it pursues and lands design projects for large utility systems at universities, airports and health care centers nationwide.

"It's a tremendous success," said Jon Schwartz, manager of the OnSite group. "It's a source of pride that we've provided this tremendously reliable, energy-efficient and cost-effective plant for the citizens of Dallas County."

For more information, contact Jon Schwartz, 817-840-1234.

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