A project to replace the Central Utility Plant (CUP) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been approved.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners voted Nov. 15 to award a $271.5 million contract to Clark/McCarthy Joint Venture of Costa Mesa for the construction of the replacement facility.

The project will replace the existing 49-year-old utility plant – which provides heating and cooling to passenger terminals, administrative offices, the iconic Theme Building, and other buildings within the LAX Central Terminal Area – with a more efficient and sustainable facility, airport officials said. The new facility will also provide heating and cooling of new areas created by the $1.54-billion Bradley West Project currently under construction.

The five-year design-build contract calls for demolishing the existing CUP and constructing on-site thermal-energy storage and ancillary facilities. As part of the project, new equipment will be installed in the replacement CUP, including: central digital control and fire alarm systems; gas-turbine-driven generators with heat-recovery steam generators; and associated equipment.

“We are essentially conducting open-heart surgery on LAX in order to meet heating and cooling demands as we modernize the airport,” said Roger Johnson, deputy executive director for airport development at Los Angeles World Airports. “The new state-of-the-art Central Utility Plant will make our terminals more comfortable for travelers, while saving energy and safeguarding the environment.”

The existing plant includes a network of approximately 18 miles of pipe that serves the entire Central Terminal Area.

The new Central Utility Plant will be located east of the existing facility, which is west of the LAX Theme Building.