EPA Recognizes Combined Heat And Power Projects, Encourages Other Facilities To Consider

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized facilities with the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Award for superior performance of their CHP systems. CHP captures the heat produced when electricity is generated and uses that heat—which would otherwise be wasted—to efficiently provide space heating, cooling, hot water, and steam for commercial, institutional and industrial use.

These three 2015 award winners demonstrate how CHP can partner with district energy systems to reduce pollutant emissions from electricity generation. District energy systems produce steam, hot water, and chilled water at a central plant, which are piped underground to individual buildings for space heating, hot water heating, and air conditioning.

The CHP Awards were presented on June 29, 2015 at the International District Energy Association’s 106th Annual Conference and Trade Show in Boston, MA. The winners are:

  • Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
  • Pepco Energy Systems, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO), Houston, TX
    (l to r) Bowdoin's engineer-in-charge Charles Blier, capital project manager John Simoneau, and maintenance and project manager, Jim Diemer accepted the award from EPA officials in June 2015.
    (l to r) Bowdoin’s engineer-in-charge Charles Blier, capital project manager John Simoneau, and maintenance and project manager, Jim Diemer accepted the award from EPA officials in June 2015.

Bowdoin College (winners pictured at right) installed its CHP system to achieve the goal of eliminating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The system provides space heating and hot water heating for 56 buildings totaling 1.4 million square feet. Bowdoin College reports savings of $138,000 a year with the system.

In Atlantic City, NJ, Pepco Energy Systems’ Midtown Thermal Control Center uses the heat from electricity generation to provide space heating and cooling to buildings through an energy system that serves Atlantic City’s tourist district. The system also supplies efficiently produced electricity to the grid, with fewer emissions of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants than conventional grid-supplied electricity.

CHP is instrumental to TECO’s sustainability strategy in Houston, TX, which seeks to reduce emissions and ensure continuous heating and cooling to the Texas Medical Center’s 19.3 million square feet. TECO believes that the best sustainability efforts reduce emissions by maximizing the efficiency of converting fuel to useful energy. TECO reports savings of $6-12 million annually.

These CHP systems achieved operating efficiencies of 68% to 86%, much higher than the efficiency of separate production of electricity and thermal energy (typically less than 50%). Based on this comparison, the CHP systems avoid carbon pollution equal to that from the generation of electricity used by more than 6,700 homes.

The U.S. EPA’s CHP Partnership is a voluntary program that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of power generation by promoting the use of cost-effective CHP. The Partnership works closely with energy users, the CHP industry, state and local governments, and other clean energy stakeholders to facilitate the development of new CHP projects and to promote their environmental and economic benefits.

More details on the 2015 winning projects can be found here.

Considering CHP?
A Fact Sheet released by the EPA CHP Partnership in May 2015 provides information on the value of CHP for projects pursuing U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification. One of the areas covered in the 13 page document include the question: Is My Building a Good Candidate for CHP?

Answering “Yes” any of these of these questions suggests the building may be a good candidate for CHP asserts the Partnership.

  • Are average electricity rates more than $.07/ kWh (including generation, transmission, and distribution)?
  • Is there a need to reduce energy costs or minimize expose to possible future increases in electricity rates?
  • Is the building located in a deregulated electricity market?
  • Is power reliability a concern? Would there be a substantial financial impact power went out?
  • Does the building operate for more than 5,000 hours/year?
  • Are there thermal loads throughout the year (including steam, hot water, chilled water, and hot air)?

The Fact Sheet can be downloaded as a PDF here.