Holland Energy Park Project Earns ISI’s Envision Platinum Award

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July 19, 2016

The Holland Energy Park project in Holland, Michigan recently received the 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.

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 (ODCMG) 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.

“During the design of this project, the HBPW and stakeholders utilized sustainability technologies that would impact the health and safety of the community,” said ISI President and CEO, Bill Bertera. “Their successful outcome could not have happened without public involvement and support that grew from the process and this is an important part of their Envision Platinum project. In addition, they have improved mobility and access via foot, bike, and motorized vehicle into the city,” he said.

The Envision rating system categories with the highest scores include:

Quality of Life (QL): HBPW worked with community leaders, area business owners, the community, and members of the adjacent neighborhoods to address the reduction of traffic congestion and improvements in walkability adjacent to the Holland Energy Park and also downtown. They have been able to revitalize a decaying entrance into the city, creating an inviting eastern gateway amid a landscape of natural vegetation, paths and ponds designed to blend with the Macatawa Greenway. In addition, they have improved mobility and access via foot, bike, and motorized vehicle into the city and to the Padnos Transportation Center.

Leadership (LD): The HBPW had been leaning towards a circulating-fluidized bed (CFB) coal plant, but due to controversy, they decided to engage the community in the decision-making process. Working with Holland-based Boileau Communications Management, the HBPW created Power for the 21st Century (“P21”), a comprehensive communications and community engagement plan that included a dedicated website, www.p21decision.com. The P21 initiative demonstrated HBPW’s commitment to broad-based community engagement to inform the community about critical decisions and issues, as well as to solicit the input of a representative cross section of the community in reaching answers. P21decision.com also stood as a complete and transparent record of the process from beginning to end.

Resource Allocation (RA): HBPW made a firm commitment to integrate renewable energy resources into its fuel mix as it transitioned through the new generation decision process, as well as to meet statutory requirements.

Natural World (NW): The HPBW contracted Environmental Resources Management (ERM) of Holland, Michigan to conduct a baseline Biodiversity Assessment to determine the habitat in and around the area of the Holland Energy Park. The Biodiversity Assessment Report inventories all the animals in the habitat, including what habitat might be disturbed by construction and what habitat will be gained by restoring the wetlands and eliminating the invasive species.

Climate and Risk (CR): Many environmental impacts were taken into consideration in the project design. Using waste heat for snowmelt and applying for a NPDES permit with the intention of discharging cooling tower blow-down along with storm water runoff are two significant decisions that were made to preserve precious natural resources. Discharging to the lake, rather than to its own Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), also allows HBPW to lighten the anticipated load discharged to the plant, allowing more time before a WRF plant expansion may be needed. This is a cost savings overall for HBPW ratepayers, delaying rate increases for a capital improvement project, and furthering their commitment to being stewards of financial resources.

Construction of the Holland Energy Park is scheduled to be complete in early 2017. To learn more about the project, visit http://p21decision.com/.