Tulane Partners with Bernhard to Improve Infrastructure, Build Solar Facility

Photo provided by Tulane University

NEW ORLEANS — Tulane University announced a 30-year plan for large-scale improvements to campus infrastructure and the construction of a solar generation facility that will produce 10% of the total electricity needs at the university’s Uptown campus. To get the job done, the school has partnered with Bernhard, a Metairie-based engineering and contracting firm with 100 years of energy and infrastructure project experience.

Dubbed Project RISE (Renew, Innovate, Sustain, Engage), the improvement project aims to significantly reduce Tulane’s greenhouse gas emissions with the ultimate goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. A school spokesperson said the partnership will “address capital renewal, sustainability and energy optimization priorities across Tulane’s Uptown and downtown campuses.”

Bernhard said the changes will result in “significant annual utility cost savings over the length of the agreement” and will bring one or more Tulane buildings to certified “net zero energy” status by 2025. 

“This partnership is a major step forward in Tulane’s continued commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Tulane President Michael Fitts in a press release. “Through it, we will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we journey toward a carbon-neutral future that also fully supports our critical research and educational missions. By increasing efficiency, building resilience and seeking alternative energy sources, the Bernhard and Tulane partnership is expected to also achieve the goal of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2025 as outlined in Tulane’s Climate Action Plan.”

The plan is seen as a way to protect the school’s assets from the dangers of extreme weather.

“Lack of consistent power during a local infrastructure failure can be detrimental to operations, academic instruction and the student experience and may cause catastrophic loss of research materials and specimens,” said Patrick Norton, Tulane’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. “With Bernhard, we have made a commitment to strengthen Tulane’s infrastructure on both the downtown and Uptown campuses in a financially and environmentally responsible way.”

Bernhard will design and upgrade campus energy infrastructure, including lighting, heat and power, standby electrical power, building automation, heating water, steam, and domestic and chilled water. It will monitor asset performance and verify energy savings using its “Bernhard Connect” system.

The university was supported in the transaction by Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors, Baker-Donelson, McGuire-Woods, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and RMF Engineering.

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