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Keeping DFC Tenants Cool And Saving Taxpayer Money

Employees standing in front of the cooling tower at the DFC

Photo caption: Installed equipment and controls at Building 25 at the DFC. From left to right: Doug Baughman (Project Manager), Silas Campbell (Asset Manager), Rob Kirkpatrick (Project Management Lead), Adam Rankin ( Building Manager), Andrew Olsen (Energy Manager).


Delivering on GSA’s priority to make a more sustainable government, the agency’s Rocky Mountain region remains committed to reducing energy and water use in federal buildings and facilities like the 624-acre Denver Federal Center.  The DFC’s vision has been to be the most sustainable campus in the country by 2020. One of a number of green projects underway in the Rocky Mountain Region is a comparison of new treatment methods for cooling tower water intended to reduce water used in building cooling.  

Cooling towers exist in many government buildings, consuming large amounts of potable water, and contribute greatly to annual operation costs related to utilities and maintenance. Traditionally cooling towers process water to help provide building air conditioning by rejecting heat to the outdoors.  The water run through the tower requires chemical treatment to prevent scale formation, hinder biological growth, and inhibit corrosion in the chillers and piping systems.  The Lakewood project analyzes several cooling tower water treatment systems that have the potential to address these needs while increasing the cycles of concentration of the water within the tower.  Increased water cycles of concentration while maintaining or improving existing water quality, reduce GSA building operation costs through decreased water, chemical, and maintenance costs.  Reduced scale within the system also provides the potential for reducing building energy costs through increased use of heat transfer reducing the work time of mechanical chillers.

In the fall of 2010, GSA Region 8, in collaboration with Denver Water, sought solutions to increase the cycles of concentration within three cooling towers (Building 25, 67, and 95) located at GSA owned buildings (primary tenants of the buildings: EPA, USGS, and Bureau of Reclamation) and began a comparative study of three technologies. Preliminary results show that the project saved over one million gallons of water in the first year and resulted in a $19,000 rebate to GSA from Denver Water.  GSA has since partnered with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Lab to better understand the results from this comparison project to further study the technology to determine how the results can be replicated throughout other buildings to cut costs, conserve water and increase efficiency within federal buildings. The project is part of an upcoming GSA Green Proving Ground evaluation of several types of non-chemical water treatment technologies tested at multiple sites in four different regions.


energy savings, Denver Federal Center, DFC, GSA, water savings, Denver Water, building operations, public buildings,