Waste Water Helps Heat Grand Rapids Buildings

Posted at: 09/03/2013 6:31 PM
Updated at: 09/03/2013 10:46 PM

"Going green" is a popular idea these days, and in Grand Rapids folks are getting creative with being eco-friendly while saving money.

The Grand Rapids River Front Energy Center sits behind the library in town, and it takes hot waste water from UPM Blandin and and turns it into heat that can warm the library. The hot waste water heats glycol in a Heat Plate Exchanger.

"Right now, we're anticipating that we've lowered our annual heating cost by about 15,000 dollars a year," City Administrator Tom Pagel.

Workers at the library were excited about the savings.

"Oh, I thought it was great," Library Director Marcia Anderson said. "I was like okay this is really working."

The system has been used at the library for about a year, but a similar idea will soon be put to use at the YMCA in Grand Rapids.

"We're very excited about it," YMCA Executive Director Betsy McBride said. "It's a very green opportunity."

McBride said the paper plant's new waste water line will run behind the YMCA. The YMCA will be able to hook up to it come spring.

"Our estimated savings is between 40 and 70 percent, which could be up to $50,000 of savings in heat for us," McBride said.

The fancy technology isn't just saving money though, it's teaching kids about alternative energy sources. At the River Front Energy Center, there is a touch-screen, educational dashboard where area students can come to learn. They can also access the dashboard online.

The open house for the Energy Center is Friday September 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. It's at the same time as the Grand Rapids First Friday Art Walk and everyone is welcome.