Eight facilities of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington will benefit from a new heating and cooling plant that will rely on cogeneration.
WASHINGTON, DC – The General Services Administration (GSA), Smithsonian Institution and Washington Gas have agreed to modernize GSA’s Central Heating and Refrigeration Plant in Washington. The $64 million project will reduce operating expenses and emissions of greenhouse gases, while increasing the supply of chilled water to the eight facilities. The project will require no up-front capital investment by the U.S. government, and half of the construction cost will be recouped in less than eight years through energy and operational savings. “This project is another example of how GSA, in a partnership with the private sector, can integrate new technology into our existing infrastructure to make our public buildings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” says the GSA’s Anthony Costa. The project will replace existing refrigeration equipment, and allow the plant to provide chilled water refrigeration and air conditioning for eight Smithsonian museums located along the National Mall. The museums include the Castle, Freer Gallery of Art, the South Quadrangle Building which includes the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and National Museum of African Art, the Arts & Industries Building, Hirshhorn Museum, National Air & Space Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian which is under construction. “This project eliminates the need for the Smithsonian to replace small, aging chiller plants in four of our museums,” explains the Institution’s Robert Bailey. “It also contributes to improved air quality for the region by consolidating energy output at one high-efficiency plant.” Cogeneration, which produces both electricity and steam from the burning of natural gas, will allow the GSA plant to meet steam requirements of more than 100 federal and local government buildings. At the same time, it will eliminate the plant’s electric utility bill while generating surplus electricity for sale to an electric power distribution grid. Cogen technology will improve regional air quality by reducing emissions, and the new chillers will replace the ozone-depleting refrigerant that is currently used to serve the GSA and Smithsonian facilities. Washington Gas will serve as the general contractor for the project, and private financing from GE Capital. Construction will begin in February, with completion expected by June 2002. GSA handles$66 billion in financial transactions for the federal government. The agency employs 14,000 workers and has an annual budget of $16 billion. The Smithsonian Institution includes 16 museums and galleries and the National Zoo, and has numerous research facilities in the U.S. and abroad. It holds 142 million artifacts and specimens in trust. Washington Gas provides natural gas and other energy services to 870,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in metro Washington and the surrounding region.