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Ecology, economics meet, generate heat

Ecology, economics meet, generate heat

New Hampshire developer fosters 'eco-thinking' for private industry

By By Gordon Wright, Executive Editor | August 11, 2010
This article first appeared in the 200206 issue of BD+C.

Plowing apparent green fieldsin the industrial market, a New Hampshire developer this summer will open the first privately-financed "eco-industrial park" in the U.S., according to Justin Bielagus, development coordinator for Sustainable Design & Development (SDD), Bedford, N.H.

In the past, projects similar to the new Londonderry Eco-Industrial Park all have had state funding, he says. But Bielagus and others in the field know of no others that are private.

This summer, the site's prime tenant, AES Corp., Arlington, Va., a global giant in independent power production, will open a new $320-million, 720-Megawatt cogeneration plant. Illustrating the concept that the waste stream of one industry can be reused by another, byproducts of the new AES facility will include both high-pressure steam and hot water that will be recycled by other tenants in the park.

The financing and development of Londonderry are similar to that for a conventional industrial park, except that park tenants are subjected to "a fairly rigorous evaluation process" before they are approved, Bielagus says.

The term "ecological" may produce a defensive reaction, Bielagus notes. "We use the term 'eco' and explain that it has a dual meaning — ecology and economics. We ask companies to rethink each step of the development process, from how they're going to site the building, to how the building will be configured, and what construction materials they plan to use — down to how the building will be operated."

Occupying 30 of the development’s 100 acres, the AES cogeneration facility will be the prime tenants of the new Londonderry Eco-Industrial Park.

'Eco-coaching' corporate citizens

SDD works with park tenants to identify methods or technologies that will minimize a building's impact on its environment without inflating the construction budget.

A life-cycle cost analysis identifies features with a higher initial cost that will provide a pay-back within a few years. Such options need to be reassessed for each project to evaluate the impact of new technologies or the introduction of products with a high recycled content, Bielagus says. Changes in the cost of materials are also reviewed. For example, bathroom privacy panels made of recycled plastic were used on an earlier project, but recycled steel was determined to be more cost effective for a current project.

SDD also recommends the use of fluorescent lighting, rather than metal halide, for warehouses. Bielagus says that while a fluorescent system is more expensive, lights can be turned on by sensors on a fork lift only when illumination is needed in a particular area.

Site-related guidelines include locating major paved areas and buildings to the East and South to minimize the use of snow-melting chemicals in the winter and the use of rainwater stored on site for irrigation.

A 75,000-sq.-ft. warehouse/distribution facility for a medical supply firm is the park's first completed building. Still under way is work on an 80,000-sq.-ft. office/distribution facility for a German hydronic systems manufacturer.

Water from a nearby municipal wastewater treatment plant will provide the 5 million gallons of water per day that the cogeneration plant requires for cooling. The water will then be returned to the treatment plant before being discharged into the Merrimack River. Because 4 million gallons per day will be evaporated in cogeneration, the total treated water returned to the river will be reduced by that amount.

No permits were required for the cogeneration plant to buy effluent from the treatment plant. The cogeneration facility was approved in less than 18 months.

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