Los Angeles International Airport, Central Utility Plant, Los Angeles, CA

LAX’s existing central utility plant (CUP) dated from the early 1960s and was antiquated and needed to be completely replaced. Syska Hennessy Group was contracted to prepare 30-percent design-level bridging documents that constitute the basis for selection of a design-build contractor, peer reviews and on-site presence through the complete construction, commissioning, oversight and turnover phases of the project.

The new, 75,000-sf CUP provides LAX with a highly sustainable facility. It is the first sustainable utility plant to be built at a U.S. airport.

The four-story, steel-framed structure meets LEED Gold standards and will save the airport an estimated $7 million in annual electrical and natural gas costs. The energy savings provides power equivalent to what would be needed to supply 9,100 homes with electricity created by combustion turbine generators operating at peak capacity as part of a cogeneration system.

Highlights of the design-build project include constructing a new CUP building housing over 22,800 tons of electrical and steam-driven chillers, two Solar Mercury 50 4.4 MW gas turbine generators with supplemental fired heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), each providing 45,000 lbs per hour of steam. The chiller plant also includes 15,500 ton-hours of chilled water thermal energy storage (TES). The cogeneration system features selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to satisfy the two-ppm NOx limitations imposed by the local air-quality management district. The project also involved completing medium-voltage substation upgrades and renovations to accommodate the increase in load.

Working in and around one of the world’s busiest airports required Syska engineers to work closely with the airport design team and design-build team to carefully calculate the scheduling and sequencing of work activities to avoid interrupting airport operations. Heating and chilled-water supply lines had to remain live at all times, requiring that commissioned mechanical, plumbing, power and life safety systems operated from the new facility before demolition of the existing plant.

This project was akin to performing open-heart surgery and main circulatory system replacement—doubling capacity and vastly improving efficiency—without a heart-lung machine and relying on the patient’s own systems.

The CUP replacement resulted in a reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 9,000 cars off the road permanently.

ENR California, Energy/Industrial Best Project, 2015

LEED Status
Registered with the goal of LEED© Gold

22,800-ton chiller and 75,000 sf

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)

Gruen Associates

Owner’s Representative

Clark/McCarthy, A Joint Venture

15,500 ton-hours of CHW TES
Two 4.4 MW gas turbines
Bridging documents
Hydraulic calculations
New energy transfer stations in terminals
Energy services
Fire protection
Vertical transportation
Fire alarm and life safety
Architectural lighting design