Heather Clancy, GreenBiz
The equipment supporting the unique heating system at Amazon's new Seattle campus are hidden by a rooftop facade.
Historically speaking, the concept of district heating is far from new — the village of Chaudes-Aigues Cantal in France has been using a geothermal version for centuries. More recently, cities such as Copenhagen and Boston have started using this approach to keep buildings warm in the fall and winter by capturing and converting "recycled" thermal energy generated by other neighborhood systems, such as nearby power plants or waste treatment facilities.
Despite the resulting, well-documented efficiency benefits, it is less common to see this alternative used for a corporate campus. That didn't discourage tech giant Amazon from investing in an "ecodistrict" design of this nature — rather than a conventional boiler system — that eventually will be used across its entire new 5-million-square-feet headquarters in Seattle.