EIU requested proposals for the replacement of its coal plant. Honeywell International was selected for this undertaking, and proposed a biomass gasifier using a feedstock of woodchips. IAA was contacted to serve as a sub-consultant. Our team's primary responsibility was the building envelope of the steam generating plant and its administrative spaces. Our group faced considerable pressure from neighboring businesses and homes to develop a design which did not have an ‘industrial look.' In addition to challenging and highly-technical design considerations and coordination efforts, the project needed to be documented in phases in order to adhere to a tight construction schedule.
The resulting facility contains two biomass boilers and two back-up natural gas/fuel oil boilers. This produces enough energy to serve the entire campus steam load. The biomass boilers were initially permitted to burn 2” virgin hardwood chips. Once the plant became operational, EIU planned to pursue, via standardized testing procedures, permits to burn other sustainable fuel sources such as agricultural byproducts like corn cobs. The plant will also have the ability to co-generate electricity using latent energy resulting from steam generation. Other spaces within the plant include a control room, a conference and educational area, offices, lockers and break rooms. Recycled and low-VOC materials were used wherever possible. The theme of sustainable construction is carried throughout the building interior, particularly in the conference room, where student groups will learn about the plant and its environmentally-conscious processes. Concrete floors, rapidly renewable ceiling tiles and recycled counter tops and casework result in a highly-functional and durable workplace. Large, energy efficient windows allow natural light deep into the plant, reducing the amount of energy required to illuminate the building during the day.