Tri-Gen CHP project gains national recognition



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The Veterans’ Administration chooses Hutter to be the designer and builder of their groundbreaking CHP project. Hutter Construction Corporation’s standout proposal for the White River Junction VAMC Biomass Energy Plant was chosen as winner of a nationwide Design/Build competition. The proposal out-scored all major competitors including well-known industrial giants.

The VAMC Tri-Generation Facility project involved the design and installation of a fully automated biomass energy plant designed to provide steam heat, turbine power generation and chilled water for the Veterans Administration Medical Campus at White River Junction, VT.  The new boiler works is housed in the space adjacent to the existing boiler room, which is located within one of the original pre-World War II historic buildings in the center of the campus. 

 Although the new boiler works is a continuation of the existing boiler plant, the whole tree wood chips are received and stored elsewhere on the campus and transported pneumatically through an underground duct to the combustion chamber in the boiler building. In order to make room for the new boiler works, the material storage facility needed to be replaced and relocated to another location on the campus. This resulted in the construction of a stand-alone fuel receiving and material storage facility located on a part of the campus well suited to receive and manage box trailer and bulk material deliveries. The resulting traffic improvements satisfied one of the VA’s longstanding master plan objectives.

Unique solutions

Hutter Construction Corporation entered a nationwide design competition to become the builder of this project. Its winning proposal involved many unique solutions to the demands of the chosen site. One of the great challenges of this project was to find a way to manage the vast amount of bulk material without exacerbating the already constricted traffic flow on the campus. The remote receiving and storage facility solved the gridlock issues, but as a result, the system became challengingly complex. The system is fully monitored, but is capable of receiving wood chips, relocating them to a five-day storage silo, retrieving them from the silo, transporting them across campus, containing them for short-term storage, metering the chips into a combustion chamber converting biomass into steam, producing electricity, producing chilled water, delivering plant steam and disposing of its own waste — all automatically and without prompting or control by the staff. The complexity is just what one would imagine for a system with so many demands.

 Together with their consultants and the close involvement of the VA, Hutter developed a design and construction plan to fulfill the project requirements within the proposed cost model and timeframe of their proposal. The complex phasing requirements necessary to deliver the project without disruption to the daily operations of the hospital was planned, coordinated, communicated and executed without incident. Many of the resulting innovations and solutions developed for this project will become a model for future biomass projects planned by the VA nationwide. In fact, this project was one of a series of six national pilot projects of its kind and, as we are told, the most successful.

 One may wonder why it would be worthwhile to create such a complex system to supply the energy needs of a campus, which already has a working system. As was outlined in Hutter’s winning proposal, the new plant will be capable of providing $23 million in fuel savings over the service life of the installation — even after paying off the cost of the project. The system will prevent the need to import immeasurable amounts of oil from unstable parts of the world. The harvesting of the required wood chips produces good quality, high-paying local jobs. The fuel comes from a sustainable source and the CO2 produced by its combustion is re-sequestered into the growing forest that the biomass is taken from.

 Hutter Construction Corporation is a native New Hampshire company, which got its start in 1973 when two young Traffie brothers decided to test their mettle in the rough-and-tumble construction business. Over the years Hutter has become a bedrock member of the New Hampshire construction landscape, a recognized community citizen and a leader in the most technical areas of construction. Through advanced training programs and a spearheading effort to stay ahead of construction technologies, they have become renowned for their ability to produce the highest quality workmanship while keeping high production standards. Using advanced techniques together with a respect for the age-old skills and methods that define real craftsmanship, Hutter Construction has distinguished itself among an elite list of builders.

There is no way to describe what this company is about without understanding the deep appreciation and sense of commitment that Hutter holds for its customers. Its customers are partners in a shared enterprise and together, they have changed the landscape of New Hampshire.

 

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