Amazon is planning to use heat generated by data centers in Seattle’s Westin Building – one of west coast’s biggest network hubs – to heat office space on the future corporate campus nearby.
Construction of the Seattle-based company’s massive high-rise campus in the city’s Denny Triangle neighborhood is underway. On Monday, Amazon’s real-estate subsidiary Acorn Development received the first greenlight from Seattle City Council for the planned waste heat recycling system from city officials.
Exhaust air from server farms can reach temperatures above 100 F, and there is a number of examples around the world where this energy is recycled by heating office space. Examples include a Telecity data center in France, a Telehouse data center in the U.K. and IBM data centers in Finland and Switzerland.
Together with a company called Eco District, Acorn applied for a permit to build an underground pipe system that will carry warm water from data centers at the Westin building to the Amazon campus. The plans include carrying cool water back to the data centers after the heat has been extracted, which may potentially lower energy consumption of the data center cooling systems.
According to GeekWire, which broke the story, Eco District is a company formed by Clise Properties, owner of the 34-story Westin building. San Francisco-based Digital Realty Trust bought a 49-percent stake in the building in 2006, entering a joint venture with Clise.
In addition to data center space, the skyscraper, built in the early 80s, is home to the Seattle Internet Exchange, the largest non-commercial member-governed Internet exchange in the U.S. Participants peering on the exchange include Yahoo, Amazon, Twitter, Microsoft, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Telx, Peer 1, PeakColo and Zayo, among many others.
Monday’s vote is a step forward but not a final approval for the project. Amazon and company still have to flesh out the design and submit another “more formal” proposal to the council, according to GeekWire.
There are hopes among local officials that the project will serve as a launching pad for an extensive district heating system that recycles waste heat.
City Council member Mike O’Brien told GeekWire that the Westin building generated more heat than the three Amazon buildings will need. “I see this project as a first step toward what I hope to be a district wide energy system that we can build off this as a catalyst,” O’Brien was quoted as saying.
There are also other sources of waste heat the city has identified for potential district heating. One of them is a sewer line building owners can tap into.