Some of the greenest features of Denver Water’s new Administration Building are easy to see — the solar panels over the parking areas and the building’s roof as well as part of the wastewater recycling system’s filtering plants in the lobby.
But one of the most environmentally advanced designs is largely invisible: the radiant heating and cooling system that keeps the building, as well as four other new facilities at the complex, temperate and comfortable year-round.
“The project is leaps and bounds ahead of your average building getting built in Colorado,” said Ken Urbanek, a mechanical engineer at IMEG Corp. deeply involved in designing the climate control system in the new buildings at Denver Water’s redeveloped 35-acre complex.
While most homes and buildings depend on conventional “forced air” heating and cooling systems — think of warmed air from a furnace being pushed through ducts and vents — Denver Water’s system uses a far more efficient design.
This one depends heavily on water at different temperatures sent through a vast array of plastic tubing embedded in the building’s concrete slabs. Water, it turns out, is far better than air at moving around large amounts of energy.
Adjusting the temperature of the water, often by using energy captured from other activities at the complex, is enough to keep things cozy in the winter and cool during summertime. One simple example: areas along the Administration Building’s southern exposure often have excess heat useful in this process.
The leading-edge approach is yet another example of Denver Water’s commitment to sustainability through cutting waste, conserving water, reducing carbon emissions and incorporating green energy and energy efficiency into its operations.