The University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth (HSC) has signed a major contract with Schneider Electric, the Massachusetts-based leader in energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability, to support current and future research programs.
The $10 million, 20-year Energy Savings Performance Contract is primarily focused on a new modernization project for cooling demand at the university’s health research labs. According to Schneider Electric, it will provide HSC $424,912 in annual avoided costs over the next two decades.
HSC has a limited physical footprint, but has continuously grown its research programs as one of the nation’s premier graduate academic medical centers. Limited real estate posed a challenge when the time came to make significant infrastructure changes, like upgrading to a massive mechanical system.
A new system—necessary for future research growth—would occupy space where new labs, classrooms, or clinical space could go instead. That’s where Schneider Electric comes in.
The company aims to redesign the system, allowing it to be relocated from a large cooling tower in the campus’ shared green space to a discrete location on the roof of an existing building. The repurposed space could be home to additional labs, and, leadership says, should improve the overall aesthetic of the campus.
“Research is an important part of the HSC community, driving funding and recruiting for the university, as well as making it an ideal location to host ongoing training for medical students,” Randall Christopher, HSC’s energy manager, said in a statement. “The upgrades will provide a reliable energy infrastructure to help continue that legacy with reduced risks related to disruption.”
Solving the space challenge will also assist HSC in attracting more researchers and students. The graduate-level institution houses six schools specializing in patient-centered education, research, and healthcare. That requires a reliable energy supply and consistent temperature control.
“The reality of our research facilities previously meant a large, noisy cooling tower in the middle of our campus green space,” Christopher said. “Our partnership with the Schneider Electric team has improved our infrastructure and our campus aesthetics by relocating the cooling tower.”
A long partnership
This is the third project phase between Schneider Electric and HSC focused on the future research growth. Overall, the two aim to avoid major costs and increase operational savings for the university.
The first phase of work began in 2001, and was geared toward energy conservation and management. That alone reduced HSC’s carbon emissions by 25,425 tons, Schneider Electric says.
In 2010, the second phase began to further expand energy infrastructure through a variety of upgrades and project installations. The first two phases saved HSC $14.2 million in total energy and operational costs, according to a news release.
The latest deal is the third phase.
Schneider Electric’s future plans at HSC include designing a campus-wide building operations platform to migrate and expand its automation systems already installed.
“Because The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth is an institution that supports significant research projects, it was important that Schneider Electric make these upgrades without interruptions to ongoing research on campus,” Greg Knudson, program director at Schneider Electric, said in a statement. “Over our multi-year partnership, we’ve come to understand the university’s needs and ambitions, so we’re well positioned to help them creatively modernize their facilities and repurpose space within their existing footprint to best position them for future success.”
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