As we first reported back in March of this year, Interbay’s Freehold Group wanted to help spur growth in the area between Queen Anne and Magnolia by using heat from effluent that runs through the city's large sewage pipe running underground to warm buildings in the Interbay neighborhood.
The energy would be extracted from the pipes with heat pumps.
“As humans we tend to limit what we see as possible,” Jeffrey M. Thompson, a partner in the firm, explained. “As developers and investors we are interested in what makes a real community, a successful community...we're not necessarily interested in making what the last person made.”
While this idea may have seemed a bit far-fetched, it is now gaining traction with one very important individual.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed the development of a pilot project that would be among the first in the nation to test technology that captures heat from sewer pipelines and redistributes the energy to nearby buildings.
County officials said the project would use “new technology,” but Thompson will be quick to tell you there is nothing really new about this type of energy conservation. In fact, it’s been used in Denmark and Canada. Our neighbors to the north used a similar system in the Olympic Village in Vancouver and up at Whistler.
“This exciting opportunity is strongly aligned with county goals to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and recover resources from wastewater,” Executive Constantine is quoted in a press release. “In the future, it may foster the kind of environmentally friendly development that creates jobs and livable communities, and we are happy to be among the first in the nation to pilot this work.”
District energy systems produce energy from a central plant that can be piped underground to nearby buildings, replacing the need for boilers, furnaces, or air conditioners.
Under the Executive’s proposal sent on Aug. 24 to the Metropolitan King County Council, the County’s Wastewater Treatment Division would partner with the Freehold Group LLC., to build a district energy system that would extract heat energy generated inside the Elliott Bay interceptor and use it for heating and cooling in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood. The interceptor is a major pipeline that carries wastewater from downtown Seattle to the West Point Treatment Plant.
“I was pleased to advocate for this innovative clean energy idea after learning about it last year during a walking tour of Interbay with Freehold Group LLC,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, who represents Interbay on the King County Council, in a press release. “This project will be a win-win, bringing clean energy to Interbay businesses and a return on investment for county ratepayers.”
The partnership agreement provides King County access to the company’s data to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the technology and the commercial viability of developing new markets for its waste energy.
King County is also entitled to royalty payments on the energy sold and to share 50 percent of any future renewable energy credits. The agreement terms also ensures the company assumes responsibility for costs or risks associated with the project.
Note to editors and reporters: Visit the WTD Newsroom, a portal to information for the news media about the Wastewater Treatment Division, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks: http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/wtd/Newsroom.aspx