GSA Goes the Extra Mile in the Mile High City

April 11, 2008

The Denver Federal Center (DFC) is a sprawling, 4 million-square-foot campus managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). In the early 1990s, the DFC replaced a central steam plant with satellite boilers. These boilers were not efficient compared to the current standards set by the Environmental Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) and Executive Order 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, and did not have any emissions reduction measures associated with them.

In the summer of 2006, the DFC responded to the EPACT 2005 requirement that all Federal agencies reduce their annual energy consumption by two percent by replacing 20 out-dated boilers with the latest state-of-the-art, ultra-low pollution, and high-efficiency boilers. In addition to saving energy and money, GSA wanted to demonstrate that new low-emissions boilers could greatly reduce pollution emissions. Although specifying low-emission boilers did not lead to a significant increase in overall project cost, it did generate significant emissions reductions. The project also included installing new high efficiency burners on the boilers in three buildings where full replacement was not practical. Charlie Rienhardt, GSA's Rocky Mountain Region Energy Program Manager, stated, "Our building manager researched burners and was able to demonstrate energy savings with a different, small scale burner replacement project, which ultimately got me thinking about boiler opportunities."

The variety of boilers for the project included 20 pounds-per-minute (PPM) low NOx condensing hot water boilers and 30 PPM low NOx steam boilers ranging from 40 to 200 horse power. The new boilers improved the DFC natural gas consumption efficiency by 21 percent compared to campus data from the previous year's winter season—a year that was much colder. Replacing boilers that are 80 percent or less efficient should generate a life cycle cost analysis payback, usually in 5 to 7 years. The potential impact on facility energy expenditures and emissions is significant. This $2 million project is on track to payback within 4 to 5 years, depending on weather. Not only did this project significantly reduce emissions generated by the DFC, but GSA also recycled more than 66 tons of steel from the replaced boilers.

Below are the projected emission reductions expected as a result of the project:

Total Yearly Emission ReductionLife Cycle Emission Reductions
CO2  22,314,150 lbs CO2  432,001,949 lbs
SO2  180,082 lbs SO2  3,486,392 lbs
NOx  26,299 lbs NOx  509,151 lbs

For more information, please contact Charlie Rienhardt at 303236-8000 ext. 5325 or charles.rienhardt@gsa.gov.