Project profile: Medical center infrastructure upgrade

Designed with UPS eBoost power efficiency technology, this project was set up with a central plant to provide utility and emergency power to the entire campus and be expanded for additional capacity over time.

By GE Critical Power September 3, 2014

Project name: Rush University Medical Center

Project type:
Critical infrastructure upgrade

Engineering Firm: GE Critical Power

Building type: Hospitals/health care facilities

Location: Chicago, IL

Timeline: November 2010 – March 2011

Project Background

Rush has been part of the Chicago landscape longer than any other health care institution in the city. Rush Medical College received its charter on March 2, 1837, just two days before the city of Chicago was incorporated. Rush Medical College was the first medical school in Chicago, and one of the earliest in the Midwest. Today, Rush is a nationally recognized teaching and research hospital focused on training the most elite medical professionals, while maximizing the treatment of its patients. In 2004 Rush University Medical Center initiated the Rush Transformation to modernize the campus with new and renovated buildings designed to better support patient needs, as well as advanced information systems to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of patient care. Six years into renovations, the campus now has a newly built 14-story hospital, an emergency department, a 5-story professional building and a 7-story parking structure. The Transformation includes a new central energy plant that connects each of the campus buildings, which eliminates the individual building control centers and gives Rush centralized control of dependable emergency and normal power.

Project details

  • 664-bed hospital
  • Includes 376-bed tower hospital building which opened in 2012 as part of the Medical Center’s major campus renovation
  • Tower hospital building earned the LEED Gold certification, making it the largest new construction health care project in the world to be LEED Gold Certified.


Integrate the decentralized power systems that provide efficient normal and critical power is marked as the biggest challenge in the project. A vital requirement for hospitals is to provide critical power to life-sustaining areas of the hospital within 10 seconds of an outage. One of the paramount challenges Rush faced was a decentralized emergency power system that did not efficiently meet the 10-second requirement. To help devise a solution, the Rush Transformation team reached out to GE.

Centralized Energy System

Rush and GE collaborated on a plan to integrate the decentralized emergency electrical system by designing a Central Energy Plant to provide emergency loads to the campus’s geographically dispersed buildings. The emergency power system is hardwired with redundancy to ensure restoration of critical power within 10 seconds of an outage, as required by the state of Illinois. In a hospital environment, those 10 seconds of downtime can be life-threatening.

GE’s equipment became a lifeline for Rush Hospital Medical Center, beating the 10-second mark with a restoration time of 8.4 seconds. This is an impressive feat for a hospital with 27 buildings that are widely dispersed over 7 square blocks in downtown Chicago.

Since Rush’s new hospital, called the Tower, opened in January of 2012, the Central Energy Plant has been silently providing life support for all patients in the hospital. Previously, when there was a power interruption, there was no easy way to determine the cause of the malfunction. Testing all parts of the electrical system to repair the glitch was inefficient. Now GE’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system allows Rush to monitor and pinpoint the exact malfunction location.

Project results

  • Provides emergency and back-up power to the 13-building hospital from a central energy plant in 10 seconds or less
  • Used multimode UPS technology designed to deliver uninterrupted power to Rush Hospital’s telecommunication systems in the East Tower Building, offering 99% efficiency in eBoost mode
  • Full scope of equipment: UPS, paralleling switchgear, programmable logic controller network, automatic transfer switches (ATS), surge protection devices, supervisor control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, medium voltage switchgear, protective relays, low voltage switchgear, packaged substations, transformers, motor control centers, switchboards.