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Seattle Steam Co. Spring 2010


It seems as though we hear about a new energy bill every week, but a bill introduced in late July is special: It offers incentives to increase the use of district energy and combined heat and power systems to heat and cool buildings throughout the country.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Jay Inslee, D.-Wash., and others, the Thermal Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (TREEA) represents an enormous opportunity to improve energy efficiency, increase energy security and cut greenhouse gas emissions through renewable thermal energy sources, combined heat and power and other energy-efficient technologies.

TREEA would create a renewable thermal energy production tax credit, which would benefit organizations like Seattle Steam — and, ultimately, Seattle Steam's customers. That's why we'd like your help. Seattle Steam has signed on as a supporter, and you can too. Just contact your U.S. senators and representative and tell them you support TREEA, S. 3626, H.R. 5805.

Learn more about the bill at www.districtenergy.org, where you can download a copy of TREEA and related documents. Questions? Contact David Easton, (206) 658-2025.


Going green can mean more green

The statistics tell the story: LEED® and Energy Star® buildings outperform their peers, according to a March 2008 CoStar Group study. The findings confirmed Energy Star buildings generate rental rates that are $2.40 per square foot higher than comparable non-Energy Star buildings. Study results also revealed that LEED buildings have a 4.1 percent higher occupancy rate.

So why haven't more property owners and managers taken the plunge and initiated energy-saving projects in their buildings? Sometimes they just aren't aware of how much of a difference saving energy can make or that special funding is available to make it more cost-effective than ever to invest in upgrades.

With proof now in, many property owners and managers are taking action. In Seattle, it's the perfect time to take advantage of an energy-efficiency improvement program available though Seattle Steam and MacDonald Miller — a program that guarantees cost savings.

MacDonald Miller

The program is funded in part by $20 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through Seattle's Neighborhood Weatherize Every Building (WEB) Initiative to Power Change and a $1.5 million loan from the Washington State Department of Commerce and the State Energy Program, which was awarded to MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions. MacDonald-Miller analyzes the energy-efficiency potential of Seattle Steam customers and then outlines which financing sources are available so customers can leverage MacDonald-Millerís funding to implement the recommendations. The program has a net zero cost to customers through energy savings, with increased cost savings achieved once the loans are paid.

By reducing your energy consumption and costs now, you will improve your bottom line, position your facility for higher rental and sale rates, and prepare your organization for the change in utility rate structures being adopted around the world: decoupling.

More and more states are adopting utility rate decoupling, which allows utilities to encourage energy efficiency and still maintain strong, viable utility operations. Although decoupling is likely to bring rate increases since utilities will be selling less energy, greater building efficiencies and fewer emissions should offset these increases and benefit organizations and their communities in the long run.

In the next newsletter, Seattle Steam will share more how decoupling relates to steam rates as we head into 2011. In the meantime, contact David Easton with questions and sign up your facility today for an energy-efficiency evaluation by MacDonald-Miller.


Tips from the Team

In each e-newsletter, Seattle Steam's Woody Woodard, manager of distribution and customer service, and Mick Reeves, chief engineer, answer a timely operating question to help you continue to improve building operations. If you have other questions you'd like answered or would like help testing your pH, contact Woody Woodard.

Q. Why does pH matter?

A. pH matters to a district heating system and its customers because low pH accelerates pipe corrosion — which all systems want to avoid. That's why Seattle Steam adds alkalizing amines to its steam as it leaves the plant. Once it gets to customers and is used within the buildings, however, most customers will need to inject their own alkalizing amines or use a method such as a vacuum pump to neutralize condensate and minimize piping corrosion. Each internal building system needs to be treated specific to that building's needs.

The best way to check your pH level is to place pre-weighed steel or iron coupons in the building's condensate run for 90 days. After the test period, reweigh the coupons using an atomic scale to observe the corrosion rate and project how many mils of pipe could potentially be lost over a given year. This will help determine how much treatment is needed. Using domestic piping, such as A106 Schedule 80 or 93b, also can minimize corrosion.


Cedar Grove

Seattle Steam is pleased to celebrate its connection with Cedar Grove, which provides an ongoing supply of wood waste for our new biomass boiler. It's been just over a year since we started working together, and the family-owned company keeps the clean urban wood waste coming at a rate of nearly 250 tons per day. Since Cedar Grove is located so close to our main plant, the hauling distance is short, helping to minimize the program's carbon footprint.


Vancouver System Heated Olympic Village

Photo Ausenco Sandwell.

Vancouver System Heated Olympic Village. In January, Vancouver, B.C., started up its first renewable district heating system. The $30 million system uses energy created from wastewater and was responsible for heating the Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek during the 2010 Winter Games. The Neighbourhood Energy Utility (plant shown in photo) provides space heating and domestic hot water to all buildings in Southeast False Creek and will eventually serve businesses and up to 16,000 residents. It is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent compared to conventional energy sources. The system marks the first time in North America that heat recovered from untreated wastewater is used in an urban center and as the primary energy source. More on Southeast False Creek is available here.

Steam Plant

Have some fun with district energy. Check out this cartoon about the technology!

District Energy Cartoon on YouTube




Seattle Steam surveyed customers and stakeholders this past May. Approximately 94 percent of customer respondents and 92 percent of stakeholder respondents stated Seattle Steam's use of biomass is important or very important. There was a 21 percent increase in the number of customer respondents who have performed Energy Star benchmarking on their buildings — up from 21 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2010. We sincerely thank everyone who participated. The results help guide our strategic planning and customer service efforts.


Congratulations to Federal Office Building, Region 10, which received LEED platinum certification (LEED Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) this past April. In 2009, the building — a Seattle Steam customer — received an Energy Star score of 99 out of 100 possible points. It is considered one of the most efficient buildings in the federal government's inventory. Since the building was constructed in 1933, it's more proof that existing older buildings CAN be energy-efficient!

Federal Office Building, Region 10
Photo Ron Swick.


Johnson Controls released study results earlier this year that indicated 52 percent of the North American executive and manager respondents are planning to make capital investment in energy efficiency in 2010, up from 46 percent in 2009. 97 percent of respondents identified energy cost savings as the most important factor influencing energy decisions, but enhanced public image came in second at 63 percent. It appears that going green is influencing market competition!


Energy Star Benchmarking Pointer. If you are a Seattle Steam customer and benchmarking with Energy Star, here is a reminder about handling energy units in the benchmarking process: When selecting the energy type, select "district steam"; when selecting units, select "kLbs". Seattle Steam measures its energy delivered in Mlbs, which it considers to be 1,000 lbs of steam. Energy Star lists Mlbs as an option but its Mlbs unit represents 1,000,000 lbs of steam, NOT 1,000. So when benchmarking with Energy Star you need to select kLbs to correctly reflect 1,000 lbs of steam. Questions? Contact David Easton, (206) 658-2025.

Energy Star

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