Request for Proposals, Qualifications & Bids

Combined Heat and Power Virtual Reality Training Platform (CHP VRTP) RFP

Posting Date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Due Date: 
Monday, September 28, 2020 - 16:00

1. Overview

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC,) a research hub that provides independent air, energy and water analysis to people seeking scientific answers, invites written Proposals from interested organizations or individuals (hereinafter referred to as “Proposer”) to develop a Combined Heat and Power Virtual Reality Training Platform (CHP VRTP) as described herein.

2. Background

Combined heat and power (CHP) technologies provide reliable, affordable power for various markets and are currently installed at over 4,400 commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities across the U.S. CHP systems currently represent almost eight percent (more than 81 gigawatts) of the nation’s total electricity capacity. The technical potential for increasing investment in CHP is growing with the deployment of packaged CHP systems and the increasing flexibility and applicability of CHP across multiple market sectors. As technical CHP opportunities expand, to see an uptick in deployment and investment requires better knowledge of CHP technologies, particularly across the non-traditional market sectors. It is crucial to grow industry knowledge and capacity among current and future end-users, developers and installers. Present workforce development and training resources may be insufficient to support and engage those that are new to CHP, as well as those that are trying to keep up with the shift in technology and application.

3. Purpose

The purpose of this RFP is to identify a fully qualified technology provider to develop the solution described below. Proposers may include additional “value-added” services in their proposed lists of services to be provided that they believe will make the end product more useful or effective.

HARC will evaluate the proposals that are received to select the Proposer best able to provide the scope of services per the requirements of this solicitation. HARC will rely on Proposer’s ability, expertise, and demonstrated knowledge of the requested services. Proposer shall be obligated to a high standard of care consistent with professional standards in performing its obligations. Proposer shall demonstrate to HARC’s satisfaction that it is of sound financial condition and is adequately bonded and insured, if requested.

4. Scope of Services

To increase the understanding of CHP application opportunities by developers, engineering firms and end-users, the Upper-West and Southcentral CHP TAP team propose the development of an innovative and readily accessible CHP Virtual Reality Training Platform (CHP VRTP). The VRTP will provide a workforce development and educational/outreach training platform that utilizes virtual reality (VR) technology. Numerous studies confirm that interactive learning enhances workforce development and training through improved retention and stronger stakeholder engagement. The VRTP will be built using gaming software in order to interactively engage current and future CHP workforce, end-users and other stakeholders. Using this state-of-the-art gaming software, users can familiarize themselves with the best practices in CHP deployment and be able to virtually tour/explore different equipment options while increasing their understanding of CHP application opportunities and challenges so that future deployments can be improved. As users walk among the virtual facility, they will encounter various CHP components (prime movers, heat exchangers, absorption chillers, etc.) and learn more about the technologies, capabilities and benefits. To further enhance comprehension, they also can design a CHP system by selecting among a menu of equipment in order to compare varying costs, thermal and electric outputs, opportunities and challenges. This site will be readily accessible to the public and will serve to promote efficiency, operational savings and resilience through CHP to all stakeholders.


HARC will work with subject matter experts from across the CHP industry, including engineering firms, project developers, equipment manufacturers, regulators and end-users to develop the VRTP. The project team will investigate incorporating existing training curriculum from synergistic collaborations with McNeese State University and other distributed energy resource training programs, such as Association of Energy Engineers’ (AEE) Distributed Generation Certified Professional (DGCP).


The deliverable for this project is the VRTP. The project incorporates visualization and interactivity through virtual reality to strengthen the body of knowledge upon which the CHP industry can accelerate development and deployment. The VRTP will help guide the user through the application of various CHP technologies and components in real-world settings and will help the user understand, depending on the persona chosen (building operator, developer, equipment provider, etc.), the impacts and potential application and integration of CHP systems. The VRTP will allow the user with the opportunity to apply previous training to a realistic and engaging platform of imported models of equipment and systems and passive and interactive simulations in various climate conditions that will provide clarity on CHP design and operations, tools and metrics, and CHP system optimization opportunities. As the user walks around and interacts with the CHP system, the VRTP will provide additional training and resource support documents to create a complete learning experience.

Time Frame

The anticipated timeline for development and rollout of the fully operational VRTP is 10-12 months.

5. Proposal Submittal Requirements

Proposals must include the following items in the order presented.

A. Binding Transmittal Letter (2 pages maximum)

Each proposal must include a transmittal letter signed by a party authorized to obligate and bind the Proposer to perform the commitments contained in the proposal. The letter must clearly identify the Proposer and a contact person for future communications regarding the proposal. The letter should discuss the Proposer’s overall ability and qualifications to conduct the work and agree to fully comply with all applicable ordinances, laws and regulations if awarded the contract. The letter is to include a statement that the offer will be valid for a period of 90 days.

B. Qualifications

Proposals must provide sufficient information to allow the selection panel to evaluate the Proposer’s capability to successfully complete the Scope of Services. This section should address:

  • Company history and staff qualifications
  • Experience with designing VR systems. A general knowledge of CHP systems and principles will be a significant benefit but not required.
  • If applicable, documentation of status as a small or minority, women or veteran-owned business
  • Include two references of clients, preferably comparable to HARC
  • Any additional information that may be useful to the HARC review committee

C. Fees

Proposer shall provide a fee schedule that describes the types of costs that HARC would incur as a client.

6. Proposal Instructions

A. Questions Regarding the RFP

The deadline to submit questions and requests for interpretation is September 18, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. Any questions are to be submitted by email to All answers will be posted at under the link for “Requests for Proposals, Qualifications and Bids” no later than September 21, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. We encourage Proposers to periodically check the website for updates.

B. Proposal Submissions

One (1) electronic copy (PDF via email to or on CD or flash drive via mail or courier) of the proposal must be received no later than 4:00 PM Central Time On September 28, 2020. Include in the Subject line “RFP for CHP VRTP”. No proposals will be accepted after this date and time. Early submission is encouraged to avoid any possibility of disqualification for late submission.

Proposals, if not emailed, may be mailed or delivered to:

Mr. Bob Travis
Manager, Business Administration
Houston Advanced Research Center
8801 Gosling Rd.
The Woodlands, TX 77381

Other means of transmission, including facsimile will not be accepted.

At any time during the proposal evaluation process, HARC may require a Proposer to provide oral or written clarification of its proposal. HARC reserves the right to make an award without further clarifications of proposals received.

7. Proposal Evaluation Process and Selection Procedure

HARC will form an internal evaluation committee that will review and score the proposals. Interviews will be requested as needed and final selection will be determined by the evaluation committee.

HARC has established the following target dates for issuance, receipt and evaluation of proposals in addition to award of an agreement in response to this RFP.

These dates are not binding and may change depending on the number of proposals received, staff availability for oral interviews and other intervening events.

Interview Process

The evaluation committee may, at its option, invite one or more Proposers for an interview. The evaluation committee may use this additional information to score the proposals.

Agreement Negotiations and Contract

The evaluation committee will make a recommendation regarding award of the agreement to the highest-ranking Proposer(s). HARC will negotiate and execute an agreement to perform the requested services with the highest-ranking Proposer(s). The selection of any proposal shall not imply acceptance of all terms of the Proposal, which may be subject to further negotiation and approvals. HARC may begin agreement negotiations with the next highest-ranked Proposer(s) at any time during the process until an agreement is finalized. Once agreement negotiations are complete, the agreement will be finalized.

8. Terms and Conditions Governing this RFP

Financial Responsibility

HARC does not accept financial responsibility for any costs incurred by a firm in responding to this RFP, participating in oral presentations, or negotiating an agreement. The proposals in response to the RFP will become property of HARC and may be used by HARC in any way deemed appropriate.

Reservations of Rights by HARC

The issuance of this RFP does not constitute an agreement by HARC that any contract will actually be entered into by HARC. HARC expressly reserves the right at any time to:

  • Waive or correct any defect or informality in any response, proposal or proposal procedure
  • Reject any or all proposals
  • Reissue a RFP
  • Prior to submission deadline for proposals, modify all or any portion of the specifications or requirements for any materials, equipment or services to be provided under this RFP, or the requirements for contents or format of the proposals
  • Procure any materials, equipment of services specified in this RFP by any other means
  • Determine that no project will be pursued.

Form and Content

Failure to timely execute an agreement, or to furnish any and all certificates, compliance forms, bonds or other materials required in the agreement may be deemed an abandonment of an agreement offer.

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