Increasing access to affordable and reliable energy is crucial to encouraging smart growth, improving quality of life and ensuring community resilience. Reliable energy means the ability of the power system to provide its customers with adequate power supply.
Major power outages can have a significant economic impact on end-users as well as utility providers. When Superstorm Sandy hit the United States in 2012, it impacted 650,000 homes, knocked out power for 8.5 million people and created an estimated $65 billion worth of damage. Without power for weeks, communities were forced to halt their day-to-day lives and deal with potentially life-threatening situations.
Superstorm Sandy was just one of many situations that have shown the vital importance of future-proofing our power providers. Only by making these systems reliable and resilient can plan to recover from disruptive events, reduce their impact and adapt to impending events. It is crucial to identify all possible disruptive factors and threats and proactively secure the entire power system, to protect people it serves, the environment and the economy.
The PEER rating system’s first credit category, Reliability & Resiliency, focuses on assessing and improving the reliable performance of the power system. Through this category, projects can gain insights on various strategies to improve their resiliency, including:
- Monitoring power interruptions
- Power system hardening techniques
- Power quality improvement
- Provision of alternate sources of power
Reliability, Resiliency and the Triple Bottom Line in Action
NYU Langone Health, the world’s first medical campus to achieve PEER Platinum certification, sets the standard for healthcare resiliency and energy reliability through its power infrastructure. After losing power during Superstorm Sandy, NYU Langone Health experienced significant challenges related to its utility services and operations, ultimately evacuating 300 patients to nearby hospitals before closing its main campus for nearly two months. This highlighted the need to dramatically improve their campus electrical infrastructure, which they elected to accomplish and validate using the PEER rating system.
NYU Langone began by implementing power system hardening strategies, including installation of flood barriers (as seen in the picture above), redesigning their foundation and the improving the walls of their Energy Building to withstand future tidal and storm surge conditions, providing them with the the ability to withstand a 500-year flood level for the whole campus. This reduced operational and damage costs of $1.5 billion for their campus.
To improve their reliability, 80% of the campus’ electrical cables were buried to keep them immune from wind, ice, falling trees or lightning. 90% of their electrical circuits now have redundant power distribution lines to decrease interruptions. With these strategies combined, NYU had zero sustained interruptions in 2017, ensuring reliable power for the medical services, comfort heating and air-conditioning for 844 patients in their facility.
NYU Langone Health also owns an 11 MW highly efficient dual fuel (primary - natural gas) cogeneration plantas an alternative source of electric supply, ensuring the project circuit remains energized even with the loss of the primary source of supply. It is the centerpiece of their plan to become a resilient and reliable medical center and a leader in sustainability through clean and efficient energy use. 60% of their energy consumption is generated by their cogeneration plant, and thus the health facility has mitigated about 21000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 4,600 cars being taken off-road.
By partnering with PEER, NYU Langone was able to verify their dramatic improvements to the resilience of its power system, and rise to become a standard for other health care facilities through their reliable and resilient power system.
In the same way, other large infrastructure campuses (Universities, Airports, Manufacturing units, etc.), cities, utilities and transit systems can assess their triple-bottom-line benefits through PEER certification. Get started with your own project by exploring certification options.
This is the second article on the series that introduces PEER’s credit category Reliability & Resiliency. Stay tuned as we explore how the next category, Energy, Efficiency & Environment, can benefit your triple-bottom-line.