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Holland, Mich., Energy Park earns ISI’s first power project Envision Platinum award.

The Holland Energy Park project in Holland, Mich., recently received the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s (ISI) Envision Platinum award. Owned by the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW), the Holland Energy Park is part of a Community Energy Plan for a 40-year framework to achieve a sustainable energy future and reduce energy demand in the city. As the first power plant and park project to receive an Envision award, the Holland Energy Park is the 15th project overall to be rated by the Envision sustainable infrastructure system.

The HBPW worked with HDR, the project consultant, to carry out an exhaustive Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) analysis studying the financial, social, economic, environmental, and health impacts of various new generation energy options. Through the process, community stakeholders decided that a natural gas solution for the Energy Park with supplemental purchased power agreements for renewable energy was their best solution.

HBPW identified a 26-acre site in the eastern section of the community, in close proximity to downtown, allowing expansion of the city’s in-ground sidewalk and street snowmelt system. The site borders wetlands on the northern edge and allows for the expansion of the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway trail system connecting the existing trail system to the Windmill Island Gardens.

The Energy Park’s design was developed with the leadership of a Blue Ribbon Panel of educational, environmental, and community leaders. Their decision was that the Energy Park should act as a gateway into the city and serve also as a destination, which integrates into the surrounding natural space. The project met three goals: to be a world-class resource that provides a sustainable and long-term energy source and an educational hub; to be a destination that provides activities for the public to connect people to the community; and also to be a gateway-enhancing access to open space, allowing people to enjoy the area.

Sustainable practices employed in the cleanup of the site included recycling building materials resulting from demolition of existing buildings, salvaging interior fixtures for use by a local non-profit, repurposing and reclaiming tree trunks and stumps for landscaping and wildlife habitats, removing and recycling more than 300 discarded tires from the wetlands, and implementing a management plan for invasive species.

The Energy Park will act as a gateway into the city and also serve as a destination, which integrates into the surrounding natural space. Image: Holland Board of Public Works

The Energy Park will act as a gateway into the city and also serve as a destination, which integrates into the surrounding natural space. Image: Holland Board of Public Works

“Our community set out to make the Holland Energy Park a benchmark for sustainable infrastructure development,” said Dave Koster, general manager of the HBPW. “We’re deeply gratified to have earned the Envision Platinum recognition from ISI because it validates the sustainable, reliable, and affordable power generation we’ve built to serve our community for decades to come.”

When fully operational, the $240 million Holland Energy Park will feature a variety of environmental objectives that include a modern building design that creates an eastern gateway to the city; a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions and the virtual elimination of solid particle pollutants; double the fuel efficiency of Holland’s present power generation; development of open, public space connecting Windmill Island Gardens to the Macatawa Greenway trail system; an expansion of Holland’s innovative snowmelt system; and the latest combined-cycle natural gas generating technology to produce up to 145 megawatts of power to meet the needs of a growing community.

“The Holland Board of Public Works Energy Park project is one of the most exciting projects that I have ever worked on,” said HDR Sustainability Director Michaella Wittmann, LEED Fellow, ENV SP, GGP. “The BPW has an obvious commitment to sustainability that is transparent and has the best interest of their community, employees, and the region at-large in mind. They challenged the traditional planning and design process and it resulted in a cost-efficient project that is a truly innovative community asset.”

The ISI Envision system measures sustainability in infrastructure projects in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk. These contribute to overall credits for the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts in a community in the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects. Created in 2012 through collaboration between the ISI and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Envision focuses on the impact of the infrastructure project as a whole.

“During the design of this project, the HBPW and stakeholders utilized sustainability technologies that would impact the health and safety of the community,” said ISI President and CEO Bill Bertera. “Their successful outcome could not have happened without public involvement and support that grew from the process and this is an important part of their Envision Platinum project. In addition, they have improved mobility and access via foot, bike, and motorized vehicle into the city.”

The Envision rating system categories with the highest scores for the Holland Energy Park project include:

Quality of Life — HBPW worked with community leaders, area business owners, the community, and members of the adjacent neighborhoods to address the reduction of traffic congestion and improvements in walkability adjacent to the Holland Energy Park and also downtown. They have been able to revitalize a decaying entrance into the city, creating an inviting eastern gateway amid a landscape of natural vegetation, paths, and ponds designed to blend with the Macatawa Greenway. In addition, they have improved mobility and access via foot, bike, and motorized vehicle into the city and to the Padnos Transportation Center.

Holland, Mich.’s new combined-cycle natural gas generating plant is expected to begin operation in late 2016. Photo: Holland Board of Public Works

Holland, Mich.’s new combined-cycle natural gas generating plant is expected to begin operation in late 2016. Photo: Holland Board of Public Works

Leadership — The HBPW had been leaning toward a circulating-fluidized bed coal plant, but due to controversy, they decided to engage the community in the decision-making process. Working with Holland-based Boileau Communications Management, the HBPW created Power for the 21st Century (P21), a comprehensive communications and community engagement plan that included a dedicated website, www.p21decision.com. The P21 initiative demonstrated HBPW’s commitment to broad-based community engagement to inform the community about critical decisions and issues, as well as to solicit the input of a representative cross-section of the community in reaching answers. P21decision.com also stood as a complete and transparent record of the process.

Resource Allocation — HBPW made a firm commitment to integrate renewable energy resources into its fuel mix as it transitioned through the new generation decision process, as well as to meet statutory requirements.

Natural World — The HBPW contracted Environmental Resources Management of Holland, Mich., to conduct a baseline Biodiversity Assessment to determine the habitat in and around the area of the Holland Energy Park. The Biodiversity Assessment Report inventories all the animals in the habitat, including what habitat might be disturbed by construction and what habitat will be gained by restoring the wetlands and eliminating the invasive species.

Climate and Risk — Many environmental impacts were taken into consideration in the project design. Using waste heat for snowmelt and applying for a NPDES permit with the intention of discharging cooling tower blow-down along with stormwater runoff are two significant decisions that were made to preserve precious natural resources. Discharging to the lake, rather than to its own Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), also allows HBPW to lighten the anticipated load discharged to the plant, allowing more time before a WRF plant expansion may be needed.


Information provided by HDR (www.hdrinc.com).

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