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September 24, 2014
The giant online retailer Amazon.com will warm its new office space with waste heat from the Internet.
That's how Clise Properties President Richard Stevenson described the “district energy system” that will be installed for Amazon's Denny Triangle campus.
Heat will come from a data center in the Clise-owned Westin Building, a 34-story tower at 2001 Sixth Ave. The energy system will pipe heated water from the data center into the Amazon high rise now under construction at 2021 Seventh Ave.
Amazon's new building will contain a 400,000-gallon reservoir and a heat-reclaiming chiller plant. Hot water will circulate to the other buildings on Amazon's campus and return much cooler to the data center, where the cycle will repeat.
“We were just always bothered that we took so much low-grade heat (from the data center) and pushed it into the atmosphere,” Stevenson said.
Clise had been talking with the mechanical contractor McKinstry about finding ways to use excess heat from the data center.
“We asked is there something we can do with the waste heat and they said, yeah, there is,” Stevenson said.
Clise and McKinstry formed a partnership called Eco District LLC to construct the system for Amazon's Denny Triangle campus. McKinstry is the designer and builder.
Amazon was still early enough in its design process to incorporate a water heat-transfer system into the plans, Stevenson said. The city of Seattle will still need to approve the plan before it can go forward.
McKinstry estimates the system will be four times more efficient than a traditional electrical heating system.
“The energy consumption in the new office building will be 80 million kilowatt-hours less over the first 25 years,” said Stephanie Pitts, a McKinstry spokesperson.
The system will also save money for Clise by cutting the cost of running its cooling towers and saving water that would otherwise evaporate.
Next door to the Westin Building is another Clise data center, 2020 Fifth Ave. Stevenson said that building uses electrical heat and won't be part of the district energy system.
Clise has also filed plans with the city for an 11-story data center at 2229 Sixth Ave., on a parking lot next to Blanchard Plaza.
Graphite Design Group is the architect.
The proposal calls for 165,000-square-foot building with 10,000 square feet of street-level retail and 32 underground parking spaces.
A city design-review board will hold an early design guidance meeting at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in Seattle City Hall, Room L280.
Stevenson said the new data center, if it can be built, will also have a water-based heating system, though there are no plans now to connect it to the Amazon campus.
“We're both in the same neighborhood,” he said. “If they continue expanding we would hope to have conversations.”
Amazon acquired all its Denny Triangle property from Clise, but Stevenson said his firm isn't privy to Amazon's plans.
Stevenson said it's possible to expand the energy system to other buildings, either as part of new construction or by retrofitting an existing structure.
“The concept of an energy district is one of those chicken-and-egg things,” he said. It depends on owners choosing to design buildings that use water for heat.
Pitts at McKinstry said energy district is a great opportunity to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is first system that we've built like this,” she said. “I'm not sure if anyone else has been doing this.”
Jon Silver can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.
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