Environmental Impact Statement for Chilled Water System Improvements at National Institutes of Health Campus

Large water tank

Project Brief

The Challenge

The National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland, uses approximately one million gallons of potable water per day for daily operation of its facilities and systems, including production of chilled water. Disruption in the chilled water supply could have severe consequences for patient care, animal welfare, and biomedical research. To ensure uninterrupted and adequate supply of chilled water in an emergency, NIH proposed to construct two large water tanks and supporting infrastructure to provide approximately 14 million gallons of water storage capacity. NIH asked ERG to provide an environmental impact statement for this high-priority project in less than 14 months.

ERG's Solution

ERG took several measures to accommodate this extremely aggressive schedule. We ensured clear, efficient communication with NIH stakeholders throughout the process, including working closely with them during internal scoping to define the scopes of the evaluated alternatives. We shared working drafts of the environmental impact statement with NIH to ensure that our review met expectations each step of the way. When NIH requested a substantial last-minute scope adjustment, we quickly revised the document and analyses to accommodate this request. We took care to develop high-quality products at every step, which resulted in minimal NIH comments despite the compressed timeline and scope adjustment. This enabled us to eliminate multiple planned rounds of client review and thus shorten the overall schedule. Supported by ERG’s efficient and high-quality work on the environmental impact statement, NIH was able to obtain a signed Record of Decision ahead of schedule, only 13 months after the project kickoff.


National Institutes of Health