Amazon‘s offices in “The Regrade” neighbourhood of Seattle have been benefiting from the area’s district heating network for the past two years.
Although upfront investment means the offices aren’t saving on the bottom line just yet, it is predicted that it could save Amazon the equivalent of more than 80 million kilowatt-hours of electricity over the next 25 years, eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions associated with burning 65 million pounds of coal.
The system works by piping the heat generated by the data centers in the nearby Westin building into Amazon’s central plant. The collaborative effort involves local development officials for four undeveloped blocks in the so-called Denny Regrade area north of Seattle’s central business district; and the sustainability team at Westin, which hosts more than 250 telecommunications and internet businesses in its facility.
GreenBiz reports that the scheme was undertaken by Clise Properties, which sold Amazon the land for the new headquarters; while architect McKinstry was instrumental in design and construction; and clean energy investor Craft3 contributed $886,000 in financing, among other partners.
When the water arrives at Amazon’s facilities, it is run through five “heat-reclaiming” chillers and concentrated à¢€” a process that raises the temperature from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s enough to distribute the heat through underground pipes and radiant coils, with backup boilers standing by for cases of extreme cold. This is a virtuous circle: The cooled water makes its way back over to the Westin building, where it cools off the data center equipment.
The system can be scaled over time; the intention is for it to support the entire campus when construction is complete.
The ecodistrict contributes toward Seattle’s vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 and will eventually support Amazon’s entire 5-million-square-foot campus.