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Downtown Energy District Under The Microscope

By District Energy posted 03-19-2020 12:16


The Westminster Window


Westminster officials paid special attention back in 2017 when Amazon began looking for a site for a second headquarters.

“In their RFP, they specifically asked for sites that had ‘District Energy’ or were district energy ready,” said Tom Ochtera, Westminster’s Energy and Facilities coordinator.

District energy is a system of hot and cold underground pipes connected to the buildings in an area — ranging from hotels and restaurants to manufacturing facilities and offices. Rather than construct their own heating and cooling systems, each building connects to the district system, hopefully saving money and resources along the way.

“Any technology company or hospital or restaurant or grocery that uses a lot of heating or cooling would be really attracted to a site,” Ochtera said. “In the long run, its a more efficient and reliable system. There are redundancies built in, so it’s much more reliable for the companies.”

Now Westminster city staff are asking the City Council to reallocate $300,000 budgeted for the Downtown Westminster project to investigate building a District Energy system there, connecting the budding development and making it more attractive to developers.

“This is really a competitive advantage for our downtown, if it moves forward,” Ochtera said. “Technology companies know that energy is one of their highest costs, next to labor and staffing. So, if they can find a competitive advantage in Downtown Westminster, I believe they’ll be coming.”

Ochtera said a similar system was built for the 2010 Olympic village in Vancouver and Xcel Energy operates one in downtown Denver.

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