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Veolia Energy reduces carbon dioxide emissions with new heat recovery system for Grand Rapids




Sharon Hanks

A new custom-built condensing heat exchanger for the special steam system serving the central business district of downtown Grand Rapids has reduced the facility's carbon-dioxide emissions by 5 percent annually.

Veolia Energy Grand Rapids LLC installed the heat recovery system, called the Economizer, at the energy facility it purchased from Kent County in December 2008. Located at W. Fulton Street and Monroe Avenue, the facility provides steam to about 125 downtown commercial, government, institutional and healthcare customers to heat their buildings and their water.

The reduction of the facility's overall carbon footprint is the amount roughly equivalent to the annual carbon-dioxide emissions of 1,000 vehicles, says Veolia Energy Grand Rapids General Manager Keith Oldewurtel.

"It was something we planned on doing during the acquisition process to keep the facility competitive and to improve its sustainability," says Oldewurtel. The Economizer became operational last November at which time officials began completing the installation's punch list and pursuing necessary certifications to validate it was performing as expected, he says.

Veolia Energy contracted with Progressive AE of Grand Rapids last year to custom design and build the cutting-edge Economizer. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the unit also has reduced the operation's consumption of fuel by at least 5 percent, ensuring competitive steam rates for customers.

DTE Energy was so impressed with the Economizer's efficiency, it nominated Veolia Energy for an award from the Energy Solutions Center, a North American trade association for utilities and equipment providers. Two weeks ago, Veolia Energy officials say they accepted the award in Detroit.

The Economizer is the latest efficiency upgrade Veolia Energy has made to the system that distributes steam to the central business district along four miles of high pressure and 1.5 miles of low pressure steam pipes. "It eliminates the need (for customers) to have their own boiler to produce their own energy," says Oldewurtel.

Boston-based Veolia Energy is a subsidiary of Veolia Environment, the world's leading environmental services company. It owns and operates the largest portfolio of district energy networks in the United States.

Source: Keith Oldewurtel, general manager for Veolia Energy Grand Rapids LLC

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at sharon@rapidgrowthmedia.com. She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.

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