North Shore Towers, a luxury co-op community based in Floral Park, Queens, New York City, has completed a $13 million re-powering/upgrade of its 43-yearold combined heating and power (CHP) system. The original CHP system had been maintained since installation in 1971, but in an effort to extend the life of the plant, GI Energy was contracted to replace three of six prime movers while maintaining continuous operation of the entire complex.
The complex relies fully on the existing CHP system to provide all of their heating, cooling, and electricity with no backup from the utility, so a seamless transfer was essential for uninterrupted operation of the facility. Continuous operation was particularly important to General Manager Glen Kotowski, whose primary goal was to ensure the safety of residents, with minimal inconvenience. According to Sal Castro, the Chief Engineer for North Shore Towers, GI Energy was selected for the project because they addressed this issue with a comprehensive construction plan.
To accomplish this, Amir Yanni, CEM, Sr. VP, Construction and Project Management with GI Energy, came up with an all-inclusive, comprehensive plan including back-up rental generators connected and kept on-site for the duration of the project,” explained Castro. “This proved to be invaluable. Other bidders had left the day to day operation of the facility and rental of generators up to us, and concentrated exclusively on their design/build contract. While these construction details were very important, the continued, uninterrupted operation of our buildings, simultaneously, was even more important to us.”
GI Energy teamed with Caterpillar distributor, H.O. Penn Machinery, to install three (3) natural-gas fired reciprocating engines totaling 4.8 megawatts (MW). Additionally, the team replaced the cooling tower and installed a new gas compressor and heat exchangers.
These upgrades increase the overall efficiency, conserve fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, while extending the life of the plant by an estimated 30 years.
The North Shore Towers community will now benefit from reduced operations costs and a smaller carbon footprint since the replacement includes a switch from a part-time diesel-fired system to new equipment that runs solely on natural gas. This transition takes advantage of the boom in natural gas in the United States which has resulted in lower prices and greater supply resilience, especially when compared to diesel and other liquid fuels. According to Amir Yanni, CEM, Senior VP of Construction and Project Management with GI Energy, “One of the advantages is the resilience of the heat and power supply — and by switching the system at North Shore Towers to natural gas we can increase that resilience at the same time as cutting running costs and emissions.”
The new system is fully operational as of July 23, 2014 with the completion of construction, commissioning, and testing. Sal Castro emphasized that, “The project was a success largely due to the diligence of GI Energy in this regard, and the new equipment should serve North Shore Towers well for years to come.”
GI Energy, which has offices in Chicago, New York, Benicia, CA and Anaheim, CA, has nearly a decade of experience with CHP systems through its acquisition of Chicago-based Endurant Energy LLC in 2011. Endurant Energy had previously been involved in developing and building the largest grid-connected CHP system in a commercial office building on the east coast, a 6.2 MW installation at One Penn Plaza in Manhattan.