The Holland Energy Park serves as an example for power plants worldwide, focusing on sustainable energy sourcing, community connections and an educational destination. The prominent site is sandwiched between the City of Holland’s vibrant downtown to its south and the Macatawa River and wetlands to its north. Previously, the property had served as an unofficial--and somewhat rundown--entryway into the community along its eastern border; the new plant completely transforms this gateway.
Rather than a typical performance-based procurement process for a power plant, the City of Holland collaborated closely the design team to develop a concept suitable for a new heart for its city. With input from the community, the team crafted the concept of a power generation campus as an educational destination. The new park surrounding the plant would serve as an ‘outdoor classroom’ and provide learning opportunities that includes wetlands, scenic overlooks and trails. A visitors’ center and gallery--expressed as a red spine running the length of the plant--would promote self-guided tours and group visits allowing the public to view control room and power generation spaces while experiencing interactive exhibits on sustainability, power generation and plant operation. This pathway visually links the complex’s mission to the community and is clearly expressed through the red spine.
A power plant is a complex and challenging endeavor. This facility establishes a sense of place within Holland while expressing, expanding and transforming its mission to be a world-class energy resource, destination for the public and revitalized community gateway.
By taking a holistic approach to energy efficiency and resource allocation, the design team minimized the carbon footprint of the new facility. Inside the plant, the team published a computerized operation and monitoring program to provide real-time performance monitoring, plant controls, maintenance checks, graphical displays, off-site communication backup and historical record keeping. This not only utilizes the best available technology but can be expanded in the future. The implementation of the system allows 80% of the plant to run automatically.
The team also utilized an electrical energy reduction plan early in the design phase – incorporating the use of LED lights in interior and exterior fixtures, leaving the switchyard and cooling tower mostly dark and designing just enough light across the grounds to ensure safety. The trail is lit with “ark sky” compliant LED fixtures – minimizing glare while reducing light trespass and skyglow. Additional energy reduction examples include insulating and sealing the building envelope and utilizing efficient mechanical systems – including 100% of the heat for administrative areas coming from captured waste heat in the power generation cycle. Efficiency efforts for the building are nearly 30% higher than required by code.
Part of the reason that the community chose natural gas generation over coal is to minimize the carbon footprint. Measured in 2011 at 23 metric tons of carbon per capita, a new coal-fired plant’s carbon footprint would have nearly doubled in 40 years. As part of the community energy plan, local leaders set the goal for 2050 at 10 metric tons per capita.
As the first Envision Platinum-verified energy project, Holland Energy Park offers a blueprint for other utility companies to meet environmental objectives. Not only did the Holland Board of Public Works build one of the most efficient plants but they did so while restoring a run-down area of the city, rehabilitating the natural environment and integrating the plant with other city-wide sustainability efforts.