Due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, Department of Defense facilities across the country were consolidated to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs. One of the reorganizations involved the relocation of the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. The reorganized facility contains over 2 million sq ft of medical, research, and support space. This combined campus, known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), provides medical treatment for active and retired personnel and their families from every branch of the military.
By consolidating the two medical campuses, the intensity of air conditioning loads on the original campus central cooling system increased significantly. At the heart of the campus chilled water cooling system was a 13,500-ton chiller plant that relied on a 3-cell, 40-year-old induced draft crossflow cooling tower. The cooling tower was aging, nearing full capacity, and consuming energy and water inefficiently. Replacing the cooling tower would require de-energizing for several months, which was iblematic since year-round cooling loads needed to be satisfied.