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The future’s so bright, we put up solar panels

Denver Water’s sustainability ethic shines in new Administration Building.

Crews from Namasté Solar install solar power panels on the roof of the new Administration Building at Denver Water's operations complex near downtown. Photo credit: Denver Water.


Sustainability is a key component of Denver Water’s mission and one that has extended to the redevelopment of its 35-acre operations complex near downtown.

The new Administration Building at the complex is striving for LEED Platinum certification, meaning its construction and operation were designed with an eye toward the most efficient, sustainable ways to manage energy use.

And what better place to start with energy than the sun.

The redeveloped complex will feature solar panels on the roof of the new Administration Building, the top floor of the new parking garage and throughout visitor parking on Shoshone Street.

How does solar help with sustainability?

More than a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels for electricity in buildings and homes.

Colorado-based Namasté Solar, the company providing solar components for the project, estimates that the complex will produce about 1,350 megawatt-hours of clean power per year. That’s the yearly equivalent of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from burning 1 million pounds of coal.

“Denver Water’s goal is to have net-neutral energy use by the end of 2020,” said Brian Good, chief administrative officer. “The solar components on the redeveloped complex help us make progress toward that goal.”

It’s not just solar panels that are being used to accomplish Denver Water’s net-neutral energy use goals.

Radiant heating and cooling also will be used throughout the building. The radiant system uses water to heat and cool tubing within the floors, maintaining comfortable building temperatures. This approach uses less energy and is more efficient than traditional forced air systems.

Solar power panels are seen on the parking garage (left) built as part of Denver Water's redevelopment of its operations complex. This view to the south, from the roof of the new Administration Building, shows the Three Stones building in the foreground and the old Administration Building in the background. Photo credit: Denver Water.


The Administration Building, as well as other buildings within the operations complex, was designed with an open floorplan to take advantage of natural outdoor lighting. The LED lights in the buildings are controlled by an automated system. They adjust based on the amount of daylight coming through the windows and also turn off when the lights are not needed.

All appliances within the building are EnergyStar certified, and some electrical outlets within the building automatically turn off when sensors indicate there is no one working in the area.

In addition, natural gas is not used in the building, further eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

The new Administration Building will be home to more than 600 Denver Water employees.