The centerpiece of Microsoft’s massive new expansion is 550 feet underground

By District Energy posted 08-27-2021 07:56


Fast Company


A major new building is rising on the expansion of Microsoft’s corporate campus outside of Seattle. Unlike other recent architectural escapades from tech companies, it’s not a circular spaceship or a swirling glass mountain or even a starchitect-designed indoor-outdoor park. Microsoft’s new building is an energy plant.

The Thermal Energy Center is the unlikely centerpiece of a 3-million-square-foot addition to the tech giant’s campus in Redmond, Washington. As its straightforward name suggests, the building will be the hub of the expansion’s new energy system, which will power the campus almost entirely through electricity provided by geothermal energy exchanges.

Designed by Seattle-based architects NBBJ, the center will house dozens of 65-foot-tall thermal energy tanks that will be warmed by hundreds of geothermal wells drilled 550 feet into the ground. Through a system of heat pumps, chillers, and 220 miles of pipe running throughout the campus, the Thermal Energy Center will use the constant temperatures found deep below the Earth’s surface to heat and cool the new office buildings when they open beginning in 2023. The system eliminates the need for conventional gas boilers and electric chillers, cutting electricity use by an estimated 50%.

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