Advancing Best Practices: Low-Carbon, Resilient Design


Van van Zelm Engineers for pushing the boundaries of efficient and resilient design and clean-energy microgrids. In 2016, the firm was working with institutions and public and private clients on clean microgrids capable of supplying the host, the local grid and islanding in the event of outages.

With developer Gotham 360, van Zelm was working on a microgrid network for four healthcare facilities in the East Bronx that would leverage existing steam generation with a variety of other technologies. A microgrid project for the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford, on which the firm performed preliminary engineering, will see Constellation deploying Bloom Energy fuels cells to create a 800 kW microgrid designed to power an elementary school, library, senior center, health center, grocery store and gas station.

At the end of the year, the firm told CCBJ that is working with an un-named client on a 20 MW PV microgrid with batteries for a town center. And for a university it was evaluating a pioneering energy system that would replace an aging oil-fired boiler and steam CHP with a low-temperature hot water system using heat pump chiller/heaters and an Organic Rankine Cycle biomass power plant designed to burn sustainably harvested woodchips.

van Zelm is also helping Harvard University make its new Science and Engineering Complex, located near the Charles River, flood resilient with an elevated central energy plant, building elevations above the 100-year floodplain, a perimeter berm and flood mitigation pumps. Van The project team includes van Zelm is as mechanical and electrical engineer, while the architect is Behnisch Architekten, landscape architect is Stephen Stimson Associates and stormwater engineer is Nitsch Engineering.