22:23 PM

Construction hums along on state-of-the-art Central Utility Plant

Imagine trading in a used Honda with 300,000 miles on it - reliable though it may have been - for a brand new Tesla. It’s faster, more efficient and, of course, it’s got that new car smell. That’s essentially what Tampa International Airport is doing right now with its new Central Utility Plant, or CUP, which is currently under construction near the exit of the red side arrivals and departures drives.

After relying on a plant that dates back to the late '90s to heat and cool the Main Terminal, construction is speeding along on a new, state-of-the-art utility plant that will be bigger, more efficient and more sustainable than the previous version.

 “It’s essentially better in every way,” said Paul Ridgeway, TPA’s Director of Maintenance. “From its performance to the aesthetics of the 10,000 square-foot building, we’re getting a massive upgrade that will help us better serve millions of guests and airport tenants. We couldn’t be more excited for it to come online.”

Crews are currently working towards topping out the building, aiming to wrap the entire project up this summer. Significant electrical work, piping connections and interior buildout remain, but the building largely resembles the final structure. Much of the heavy equipment, including three large chillers, have already been installed.

When finished, the new CUP, and associated Electrical Service Building, will provide all utility services to the Main Terminal including cooling, heating, fire protection, domestic water and power.

The CUP’s performance will be significantly improved compared to today:

  • 30 percent more efficient, removing the equivalent of about 620 vehicles off the road each year in carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Saves 25 million gallons of water per year through the use of reclaimed water.
  • Increased overall capacity by about 33 percent
  • New heat recovery chiller that reduces demand on the boilers and overall natural gas consumption

The current Central Utility Plant is located in the Administration Building, which is set to be demolished to make way for new express curbsides as part of Phase 2 of the Master Plan. The curbsides are necessary to accommodate future passenger growth.

The new building will be visually striking, both inside and out, to passersby.

As guests leave the curbside, they will be able to look inside the building’s glass windows to see a maze of brightly colored pipes, chillers and other heavy-duty mechanical equipment. The outside of the building will be wrapped in perforated metal cladding and lit up at night with multicolored LED lighting.