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Seattle Steam Co. Winter 2012


Seattle Steam's new waste wood-fueled boiler is not only reducing the company's carbon footprint — and that of our nearly 200 customer buildings — but also burning cleaner than required by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA). Those are among the findings in a certified report issued recently by independent third-party emissions tester The Avogadro Group LLC. The firm spent two days in November testing our biomass boiler emissions. The PSCAA was also involved in overseeing the test process.

Biomass Boiler

The testing program's objective was to demonstrate Seattle Steam's compliance with emission limits detailed in our PSCAA operating permit. The report showed that the company is, in fact, operating well within those limits and that the biomass boiler's state-of-the-art control systems are extremely effective. Of particular significance are the low emission rates of condensable particulates — sometimes referred to as "nanoparticulates" — confirming that the special scrubber we installed is performing extremely well.

The report's findings were as expected by Seattle Steam CEO Stan Gent: "From the beginning, we were determined to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 percent with our biomass boilers and to do so with as little impact as possible on the air we all breathe. These latest test results show our extra investment in design and equipment has been a huge success."

The biomass boiler is used to produce steam for heating various buildings in the central business district and First Hill neighborhood. The exhaust from this boiler is directed into a baghouse for abatement of particulate matter emissions. The boiler/baghouse exhaust stack is equipped with a continuous emission monitoring system and a continuous opacity monitoring system designed to provide data for emissions reporting.

The Avogadro Group is an Oregon-based contractor that has been approved to conduct emission source testing. The company is a full-service sour testing and combustion engineering consulting firm with extensive experience in air-quality management and pollution control.


Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has been connected to Seattle Steam's district heating system since it opened in 1991. It uses steam to heat the building and domestic water as well as humidify the galleries, keeping priceless works of art under carefully controlled climate conditions.

From Feb. 9 through April 29, SAM is featuring "Gauguin Polynesia," a show of Paul Gauguin's works that highlight the complex relationship between Gauguin's work and the art and culture of Polynesia. Tickets are now available through the museum, which is the only U.S. stop for the show. Seattle Art Museum members receive free unlimited admission. The museum attracted more than 400,000 to a Picasso exhibit in late 2010.


Pipeline to Connect Danish, Swedish Systems. The Swedes and the Danes may be longstanding friendly rivals, but they share a commitment to sustainability that includes the expansion of district energy — which already supplies half of both countries' heating needs.

A view across the strait from Helsingborg to Elsinore.

Now Elsinore, Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden, may soon collaborate on a project that will allow them to cost-effectively increase their district heating capacities. The two cities — just a 20-minute ferry ride apart across the Øresund Strait — are developing plans to install an underwater pipeline to carry hot water between them. It will enable their district energy systems to back each other up in emergencies.

This means that as these district heating systems expand their networks in the future, they can count on each other as a source of emergency reserve capacity — rather than each building its own new plant just for that purpose. So if a problem should occur at Helsingborg's combined heat and power plant, for example, customers there can receive heating from the biomass plant in Elsinore — and vice versa.

The proposed 3-mile-long pipeline, to be installed across the channel at a depth of 197 feet, has an estimated cost of $42.7 million. Application has been made for project funding from Interreg, a European Union initiative to stimulate regional development.

Charlie Munson


In each e-newsletter, Seattle Steam's Charlie Munson, manager of distribution and customer service, answers a timely operating question to help you continue to improve building operations.

In the previous newsletter Seattle Steam suggested customers make sure their steam traps are operating properly. Can Seattle Steam help with that process?
Yes, Seattle Steam can help customers check their steam traps. In fact, Seattle Steam offers a free review of customers' traps (up to four hours) using thermal imaging. Thermal imaging identifies those traps that are performing inefficiently. Once identified and corrected, those traps — and the building's steam system — will run more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Here is an example of what just one bad trap can cost you: If a building's steam system has 10 psi of pressure, one failed steam trap with a 7/32-inch orifice means that a customer is losing 28 pounds of steam per hour. If that building's system operates 24 hours a day, that's 20,440 pounds of steam lost per month — or 245,280 pounds of steam lost per year, all of which was purchased but not used. That could equate to a loss of more than $6,800 per year — just from one failed trap — depending on your cost of steam.

Our free thermal imaging service can get you on track to save this kind of money! Spring is the best time to perform this type of a steam system checkup so repairs can be made when your system is turned off for the summer. Contact me now at (206) 510-4749 or cmunson@seattlesteam.com to schedule your free trap review!

Steam Plant

GoGreen Conference Coming Up. On April 25, business leaders from throughout Seattle will gather at the GoGreen Conference 12 to learn the latest in sustainable business practices for business. This conference is designed to educate, motivate and inspire companies to take their green quotient to the next level. Check it out!



"Green Job" Concentration in Seattle Higher Than U.S. Average. The City of Seattle's Office of Economic Development reports that there is a 64% greater concentration of clean technology, or "green," jobs in the Seattle area than the U.S. average. The Seattle area is home to a $1 billion (in gross revenues) clean technology industry that includes more 300 companies. These firms employ more than 8,000 people at an average wage $60,000, for total wages of nearly $500 million.


Biomass Thermal Energy on International Agenda. The 5th annual International Biomass Conference & Expo will take place April 16-19 in Denver, Colo. An entire track is devoted to industrial and commercial thermal energy. Biomass-based district heating systems are gaining in popularity around the world. As of 2009, biomass accounted for more than 60% of the fuel used for district heating in Sweden.


U.K. Sees Emission Reductions from CHP/District Heating Use. As reported in Forbes, a recent study issued by the Greater London Authority shows that combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating use helped reduce London's carbon emissions by 36,392 tons in 2010. This accounted for 50% of all carbon emission reductions. "Greater use of district heating will allow the U.K. to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions for more homes and businesses, while enabling the most efficient and effective use of valuable renewable-energy supplies," said Graham Meeks, director of the U.K.'s Combined Heat and Power Association.


Harnessing the Heat Picking Up Steam. Productively using energy that is otherwise wasted could dramatically cut electricity costs and create up to 1 million jobs, according to this ad campaign recently launched by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Seattle Steam Company agrees and lent its name in support of the effort. Seattle Steam is evaluating the use of such technology — combined heat and power — at its main plant.


Next Step in Benchmarking Program. April 1 is the next deadline in the city's mandatory energy benchmarking program when buildings more than 10,000 sq ft, including residential buildings with more than five units, must comply with program requirements. This is the last step in the phased-in program (outlined in Seattle Municipal Code 22.920) where qualifying buildings must be measured for energy performance using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's online ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. All qualifying buildings must continue to measure and report their energy performance annually. Seattle Steam Co. has set up a program to help steam customers comply. After reading details online customers can access their Seattle Steam UtilityStudio account to complete forms for both Seattle Steam and ENERGY STAR to get started.

Energy Star


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