University of Miami Medical School
Goes Green With District Cooling, LEED®
The University of Miami (UM) Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
was founded in 1952 to serve South Florida, South America and the
Caribbean in education, research, patient care and community service. The
state’s first accredited medical school, the Miller School has become one
of the most comprehensive medical centers in the country and a leading
medical research university. In 2010, U.S. News & World Report listed the
Miller School’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute as the number one hospital in
the country for ophthalmology for the seventh year in a row. Three other
Miller specialties were also listed among the nation’s best: ear, nose and
throat; kidney disorders; and neurology and neurosurgery.
The Miller School has experienced burgeoning growth in recent years,
and, as it expands its facilities, it is committed to do so in an ecologically
sound manner in keeping with UM’s ‘Green U’ sustainability initiative. In
2009, Miller took a significant step toward improving energy efficiency with
the opening of its new state-of-the-art district cooling plant – the second-largest chilled-water central energy plant in South Florida and one of the
most significant capital investments the university has made to date. The
new 44,000-sq-ft plant can supply up to 25,000 tons of cooling and 14 MW
of emergency standby power. It was built on the ground floor of the new
15th Street Parking Garage, hardened to withstand Category 5 hurricanes.
Previously, the Miller School’s 3. 2 million sq ft of health care, research
and administrative space had been cooled by local chilled-water plants
serving individual buildings. At present, the new plant is delivering 6,700
tons of peak cooling and 8. 4 MW of emergency standby power to 2 million
sq ft of space in eight buildings. By February 2011, three additional buildings
totaling 416,000 sq ft will be connected to the new chiller plant, which will
then deliver 8,100 tons of cooling and serve nearly all chilled-water-based
facilities on campus.
Among the facilities already receiving chilled-water service is the
Biomedical Research Building (BRB), the newest of the Miller School’s two
LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings.
The 188,000-sq-ft BRB opened around the same time that the new plant
came on line, and it houses the labs and offices of the Interdisciplinary Stem
Cell Institute and the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics.
The BRB also has some of the most sophisticated power and HVAC
monitoring systems available in the industry, equipped with smart-breaker
technology. All systems incorporate some form of advanced variable-speed
controls, from chilled-water pumps to fan-controlled ventilation in clean rooms
designed to maintain proper positive-to-negative room air-flow protocols.
Many other green features were also built into the BRB – including,
for example, energy recovery units for precooling outside air and
condensate water reclamation for public toilet operation; an insulated
argon-glass façade to reduce heat; reflective roofing; daylight harvesting
Courtesy University of Miami. Photo Miguel Romeu.
The Miller School of Medicine’s new nine-story Biomedical Research
Building opened in spring 2009. It houses laboratories and other research
space, faculty offices, conference rooms, vivariums and open public areas.
using integrated sloped ceilings and lighting controls; occupancy sensors
for lighting control; and flexible, reusable laboratory casework and office
partitions to reduce future waste.
UM is committed to designing all new buildings to meet LEED
certification standards, at the Miller School as well as on its other four
campuses. The medical school’s facilities department, along with students
and faculty from the College of Engineering, will soon embark on a study of
the benefits and opportunities of utilizing district energy with LEED buildings,
and in particular, how incorporating thermal energy storage and geothermal
energy can earn additional LEED rating system points. UM will also explore
how the cost savings afforded by district energy can be reinvested in some
of the more costly LEED-related building features that business owners might
otherwise value-engineer out of their building designs.
As UM and the Miller School continue on the path of sustainable growth
in the future, the findings of this study will most certainly help guide the way.
For more information, please contact Marcelo Bezos, director of
facilities and engineering, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine,
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