National Western Center and Partners Launch Largest Wastewater Heat Recovery System in the United States

Posted On: April 21, 2022

New district energy system will heat and cool buildings with recycled thermal energy from nearby wastewater pipeline, in pursuit of a low-carbon campus

DENVER – The National Western Center (NWC) and its partners are striving to create a low-carbon campus that’s sustainable and regenerative. Today the partners celebrated taking the next steps in the implementation of that vision by launching the largest wastewater heat recovery system in the United States to date.

Used water that goes down the drains of our showers, sinks, bathtubs, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets travels through a main sewer pipeline. Within the NWC’s wastewater heat recovery system, a plate and frame heat exchanger captures the warmth of that wastewater and transfers it to a clean water distribution pipe. The system is housed in an 8,790-square-foot central utility plant (CUP) constructed of a pre-engineered metal building. The distribution pipe enters into individual buildings using a closed-loop system (clean water never touches wastewater) and harnesses the energy from the system to heat and cool the buildings.

“We made a promise to be at the forefront of sustainability, and we’re delivering,” National Western Center CEO Brad Buchanan said. “Knowing we have to heat and cool our buildings one way or another, we chose an innovative, clean-energy system that’s both beneficial for our campus but also for our community.”

The system was designed, built and will be operated by EAS Energy Partners (EAS), through an agreement with the National Western Center. EAS is comprised of CenTrio, the largest core-competency district energy operator in the United States, AECOM Technical Services Inc., and Colorado-based Saunders Construction. The system is being delivered at a cost comparable to traditional natural gas systems but is low carbon, consistent and sustainable.

“The leadership from all the partners helped bring about the largest sewer heat recovery system in the United States and demonstrates the sustainability success we can have when we work together to create and deliver innovative, affordable and reliable energy solutions to our customers.  EAS is excited about this milestone in the project as the district comes on-line.  CenTrio is looking forward to its continued partnership with the National Western Center Authority as we integrate this asset into our operations and become a trusted partner to the community.”

Reducing fossil fuel use means reducing air pollution and associated health impacts. To build the system, the City and County of Denver’s construction team had to bury the 72-inch wastewater pipeline that once ran alongside the South Platte River, alleviating its odors and opening up recreational space for people enjoy.

“The District Energy System exemplifies the City’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and resiliency. This system will serve as a model for other cities and help to educate and promote clean energy solutions,” said Tykus Holloway, Executive Director for the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center / City and County of Denver.


About the National Western Center

The National Western Center is a year-round, global destination for ag and food innovation, western heritage and culture that will open in Denver in 2024. We will convene the world at the National Western Center and at to lead, inspire, create, educate and entertain in pursuit of global food solutions.

The National Western Center Authority is a nonprofit responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day experience of the campus realizes the mission and vision of the National Western Center. The Authority manages everything from programming, to events, to curating the tenant mix, to operations and maintenance. The Authority is guided by a 13-member board of directors.

About the National Western Center partners
The National Western Center is the result of a partnership between the City and County of Denver, the National Western Stock Show and the Colorado State University System.

The City and County of Denver is the primary land and facility owner and has a 100-year lease with the National Western Center Authority. The Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center is responsible for phases one and two of construction.

The National Western Stock Show, established in 1906, is the premier livestock, rodeo, and horse show in the nation, serving agricultural producers and consumers throughout the world.

Spur, Colorado State University System’s campus located at the National Western Center, will engage all learners and fuel solutions around water, food, and health — creating impact on lives and the world. Coming in 2022.

Learn more at

About EAS Energy Partners

EAS Energy Partners (EAS) is a consortium led by CenTrio, the largest core-competency district energy operator in the United States with more than 300 customers. EAS also includes AECOM Technical Services Inc. and Colorado-based Saunders Construction. EAS will serve as the National Western Center’s campus energy partner, responsible for delivering district and renewable energy solutions, and for their long-term operation and maintenance.

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