UAMS Expects Big Savings From $150M Energy Project

UAMS Expects Big Savings From $150M Energy Project
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

An all-Arkansas contracting team broke ground Wednesday on a $150 million medical school energy project expected to save $4.8 million a year at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

The project, which includes a new $49 million electric generating plant to back up campus power needs, will also help UAMS do $101 million in work on maintenance, energy efficiency and an effort to reroute Cedar Street through campus.

The endeavor is financed through a bond issue approved this year by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees. Contractors on the project team are Bernhard Energy and Bernhard TME, CDI Contractors, Clark Contractors LLC, and Kirchner Architecture, all of Little Rock; as well as Clear Energy of Fayetteville.

Trustees, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson were on hand in hard hats to turn the dirt. 

“Moving forward with this work, we are seeing to the health of the university’s physical plant,” Patterson told the crowd. “Part of our responsibility is being a good steward of the public’s dollars and of our finances in the most efficient way. This will help us do that.”

The project will leave UAMS’ energy efficiency ranking in the top 1% of all academic medical centers in the United States, according to a university news release.

“For 140 years, UAMS and the city of Little Rock have worked together on a shared mission — the well-being of the people who live and work here,” Scott said. “We’re glad today to join again with the university in a project that will help ensure that mission’s continued success for the city’s people and for all Arkansans.”

Over a three-year building plan, the university will install the new power plant on the east side of the campus, upgrade control systems, interior and exterior lighting, electrical systems, mechanical systems and building infrastructure. The new generator plant will provide 100% backup power for the UAMS campus, including the cooling system and research facilities. The university’s West Central Energy Plant now provides backup power for inpatient facilities.

“Using guaranteed capital and savings in operating costs, UAMS is positioning itself to successfully weather the perfect storm of declining reimbursements and ever-increasing costs, challenges faced by many academic medical centers nationwide,” said Christina Clark, UAMS’ vice chancellor for institutional support services and COO.

The length of Cedar Street through the campus’ east side will be closed and traffic rerouted through the multilane expansion of Pine Street one block to the east. The city of Little Rock is contributing $4.6 million to the projected $12 million cost of the detour and other street improvements.