Holland, Mich. — 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, the 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 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 include the recycling of building materials resulting from the demolition of existing buildings, salvaging of interior fixtures for use by a local non-profit, repurposing and reclaiming tree trunks and stumps for landscaping and wildlife habitats, removal and recycling of over 300 discarded tires from the wetlands, and implementing a management plan for invasive species.

"Our community set out to make the Holland Energy Park a benchmark for sustainable infrastructure development," said Dave Koster, general manager of the Holland Board of Public Works. "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; the 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. 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 cost efficient project that is a truly innovative community asset," said HDR Sustainability Director, Michaella Wittmann, LEED Fellow, ENV SP, GGP.