NEW ORLEANS, La. — Construction on the 1.6-million-square-foot Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System replacement medical center recently achieved a major milestone when the new central energy plant powered up for the first time.
The plant is the campus’ first new building delivered by contractor Clark/McCarthy Healthcare Partners. The new medical campus will replace the existing VA hospital damaged during Hurricane Katrina. The $995-million medical center is on schedule to be complete in the spring of 2016 and the VA anticipates seeing patients in late 2016.
The over 130,000-square-foot central energy plant will serve as the backbone of the campus, providing electrical power, chilled/steam/domestic/fire water, heating and cooling systems and emergency back-up systems to the campus’ eight other buildings. The facility provides enough capacity for the entire campus to operate independently of the city’s infrastructure and be self-sustaining for up to five days in case of a natural disaster or federal emergency.
“With this electric service in place, permanent systems may be brought up, getting the project one step closer to controlling the environment required to complete construction,” said Clark/McCarthy Healthcare Partners Project Director Steve Maslen. “With the central plant now online, Clark/McCarthy is on track to turn over some areas of the medical center in 2015, which will facilitate the VA’s activation.”
After the electric utility company Entergy Corporation powered up the plant, the Clark/McCarthy Healthcare Partners team began testing the systems on the project. All systems are scheduled to be operational by the end of 2014. Once they are deemed ready, the central energy plant will support the already-occupied VA administrative building, which was the former Pan American Life Building.
Construction of the central energy plant began June 2012, with the driving of 755 piles for the building foundation. Like the remainder of the campus, sustainability was a key consideration and the central plant incorporates many green features. Water for the cooling towers will be supplied, in part, from rainwater collected and stored onsite, protecting natural resources and helping reduce utility costs.
Clark/McCarthy Healthcare Partners, a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., is the prime construction contractor for the medical center. The project architect is StudioNOVA, a joint venture of NBBJ, Eskew, Dumez + Ripple, and Rozas-Ward Architects. Mechanical and electrical engineering for the central energy plant was performed by BR&A Consulting Engineers.