NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Reveals Combined Heat and Power Plant and Celebrates Completion of Mission-Critical Energy Islanding Project

Houston, Texas – Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) was joined today by Calvin Williams, Associate Administrator of Strategic Infrastructure at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters; Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Joel Walker, Director of JSC Operations; Melissa McKinley, NASA Project Manager; and Greg Collins, President of Energy Systems Group (ESG) for a reveal ceremony to commemorate completion of a combined heat and power (CHP) plant at JSC.

ESG, a leading energy services provider, began construction of the CHP plant, the first ever for NASA, in 2016 as part of an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) awarded in August 2015. Established in 1961 as the Mission Control Center for NASA’s U.S. Human Space Flight Program, JSC is one of NASA’s largest research and development centers, occupying 1,620 acres southeast of downtown Houston. JSC serves as NASA’s lead for the International Space Station (ISS) and is home to the Orion Spacecraft, the NASA Astronaut Corps, and other advanced human exploration projects.

The CHP facility will operate in parallel with the utility, meeting nearly 70 percent of JSC’s electric requirements, all of JSC’s steam requirements, and roughly half of JSC’s chilled water requirements. Capable of operating as an islanded microgrid, the CHP plant will provide energy for critical mission operations such as ISS Mission Control and the Orion program in the event of a utility power disruption.  This represents a new way of thinking about utilities at JSC. As the JSC center changes, the new CHP system will allow JSC to adapt to new programs, new requirements, and new ways of being flexible.

The ESPC project’s two energy conservation measures, a CHP plant and chilled water plant improvements, will save approximately $141 million over a 22-year operating term. The CHP plant will produce 11.9 megawatts of electricity via two 5.7 megawatt combustion turbines and one 500 kilowatt steam turbine. Using waste heat from the combustion turbines, two heat recovery steam generators will produce 50,000 pounds per hour of high pressure steam. The steam will be simultaneously used for heating and to generate chilled water via existing steam turbine-driven chillers. Conventional utility power generation systems typically operate at 35 to 45 percent efficiency. Using the waste heat generated by the NASA JSC CHP plant for both cooling and heating allows for overall tri-generation thermal efficiencies in excess of 85 percent. Recommissioning of the chilled water system will result in further efficiencies. ESG will provide operations & maintenance and repair & replacement services and savings guarantees for the term of the contract.

As part of an interagency collaboration, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded JSC a $1 million grant to provide direct funding for the project and assisted the center in the preparation and evaluation of the contract and specifications for the CHP. 

“ESG is proud to support NASA in the development and construction of this mission-critical energy islanding project,” said Greg Collins, ESG President. “This highly efficient plant will reduce Johnson Space Center’s greenhouse gases by approximately 20,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is a 15 percent reduction, and is equivalent to eliminating the emissions from over 4,000 passenger vehicles or powering 2,400 homes in Texas.”

Energy Systems Group (ESG) is a leading energy services provider that specializes in energy efficiency, sustainability, and infrastructure improvement solutions in the government, education, healthcare, commercial, and industrial sectors. ESG is strongly positioned to develop projects across the full spectrum of federal contracting opportunities, including Energy Savings Performance Contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. ESG is an industry leader in developing and implementing federal government projects under Utility Energy Services Contracts and through public / private partnerships such as Enhanced Use Leases. ESG also offers a full range of sustainable infrastructure solutions including waste-to-energy, distributed generation, and renewable energy. To learn more about ESG, visit