February 11, 2020

Construction is nearing completion on the replacement and re-design of O'Hare Airport's emergency and standby power system generators, which airports rely on to ensure power is continuous in the event of an outage. For this project, Epstein is providing engineering and architectural services.

While OHares previous emergency backup system was operational, it utilized technology from the 1960s. As such, parts for it could no longer be found because the equipment was too dated. It was also mechanically based and mechanically controlled.

It was a need, a necessity, for OHare, said Tom Smiles, P.E., Epsteins Senior Vice President, Director of Engineering. The airports previous system was antiquated and needed to be modernized. Since theyre updating, the thought was not only to replace it, but also to enhance it.

The Epstein-designed replacement is more computer driven and digitally based. It increases the existing system capacity from 8-10 megawatts to 18 megawatts, which is enough to power several thousand homes. As a result, OHare will acquire greater system functionality and efficiency during emergencies in which normal operations have been impaired.

Epstein is also responsible for the design of two new buildings to accommodate the replaced system: one to house the new generators and one to house the associated electrical distribution.

With internal systems being optimized and tested, the building is in the final stages of construction. The facility is scheduled to be operational this spring.