Hidden under the streets, a robust underground district energy network of piping has delivered steam, hot water and chilled water to some of Kansas City’s premier institutions and businesses since the 1920’s. Owned and operated by Vicinity Energy, the network supplies 99.99% reliable thermal energy to over 4 million square feet of commercial space, including the T-Mobile Center, Flashcube Apartments, City Hall, KC Convention Center and Lifted Spirits Distillery. District energy is an innovative and resilient energy solution that involves the production of thermal energy from a central plant, eliminating the need to install or manage onsite boilers and chillers. District energy also offers our customers a green energy alternative. Through our combined heat and power (CHP) operations, green steam is helping to reduce Kansas City’s carbon footprint by nearly 33,000 tons annually.
Vicinity in Kansas City
Vicinity tackles global energy problems on a local level, with local resources. Erected in 1904, the Grand Avenue Plant was originally designed to supply power for Kansas City’s first streetcars and streetlights. Over time, the district system was expanded, converted to steam and chilled water production and CHP technology was introduced. Used in space heating and cooling, domestic hot and chilled water, humidification, and sterilization, Vicinity Energy’s district energy system distributes thermal energy to over 60 customers in downtown Kansas City, including manufacturing, food processing, hotel and entertainment venues, commercial and residential space, and government facilities.
Sustainable Green Steam for a Cleaner Future
Green steam refers to Vicinity’s low carbon thermal product, which in large part comes from a CHP process and the integration of renewable energy. Today in the Kansas City district, CHP technology is maximizing the transformation of fuel into energy and decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by capturing waste heat that would otherwise be lost under conventional means. By combining the production of thermal energy (used for both heating and cooling) and electricity into one process, CHP results in the most efficient use of fuel to generate electricity and condition buildings, using far less fuel than when heat and power are produced separately. Vicinity’s use of innovative CHP technology and its elimination of coal in 2017 have collectively reduced GHG emissions in Kansas City by nearly 33,000 tons annually – the equivalent of removing almost 7,100 cars from the roads. And we’re not stopping there – Vicinity’s Clean Energy Future is our formalized commitment, vision and roadmap to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.
District Energy benefits in Kansas City
In addition to investing in Kansas City’s critical energy infrastructure and reducing its carbon footprint, with Vicinity’s district energy system, individual buildings don’t require large onsite mechanical equipment – freeing up space for building amenities, eliminating the risk of onsite combustion, and reducing upfront capital and ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. Further, you get the peace of mind that comes with Vicinity’s 99.999% reliable energy delivery. Our interconnected central energy facilities have built-in redundancy, back-up generation and multiple water and fuel sources. So regardless of what’s going on in Kansas City, you can rely on district energy to help keep you up and running.
I recommend Vicinity for three reasons: reliability, reduced maintenance costs and it makes budgeting simpler with no unexpected replacement costs or capital expenditures. We have buildings that use electric, some gas, others use steam for heating. When we compare costs among our facilities, Vicinity’s steam is by far the most economical.