Did you know that the hot water you send down the drain can be used to regulate the temperature of buildings? Called sewer heat recovery, the process essentially captures warm water from showers, washing machines, and dishwashing and stores it in a heat-consistent pit. This stored water is then used to heat and cool nearby structures. The concept is garnering attention as a green temperature solution, and now Colorado is building the largest sewer heat recovery project in North America.
The state will invest $1 billion to remodel Denver’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo site. The new structure will be a hub for art, education, and agriculture and it will be entirely heated and cooled by energy from the sewer pipes below.
The green heat created by the capture system will avoid carbon emissions equivalent to driving a gas-powered car around the equator 250 times. Once the recycled water is captured below ground, a massive pump circulates energy from the clean-water loop to surrounding buildings.
The process is most effective when a large amount of wastewater can be collected, making this solution ideal for projects like an enormous rodeo site, but less practical for homes or apartments. Installing sewer heat recovery requires overhauling entire structures, but fortunately, that makes it perfect for large new construction projects. Hopefully, Denver’s pilot project will serve as a blueprint for other large projects looking to green up their construction.