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Iconic Philadelphia Landmark Goes Green with Steam

An iconic skyscraper constructed of steel and blue glass, Two Liberty Place has been a mainstay of Philadelphia’s city skyline for over three decades. When it came under new management in 2016, it traded its electric boilers, which were at the end of their useful life, for clean district energy – or green steam – maximizing energy efficiencies and significantly lowering electricity costs.


With its memorable tiered glass roof, Two Liberty Place is an iconic part of Philadelphia’s Center City, nestled in the heart of downtown. Faced with older onsite boilers, the building’s new management opted to switch to Vicinity’s district energy system to meet its heating needs. This has resulted in significant improvements, including increased efficiencies.


The skyscraper, the fourth tallest in Philadelphia, was unveiled in 1990 to house corporate offices, and has since been converted for mixed use, including offices and residential condominiums. At 880 feet tall, with 1.25 million square feet of floor space, Two Liberty Place’s significant heating needs were addressed by six aging, 30-year-old onsite electric hot water boilers, which had begun to exhibit reliability issues. The building has 36 floors of commercial offices and 26 floors of luxury residential condominiums, making reliability critical for the building’s tenants. Coretrust Capital Partners acquired the building in 2016, and in working with CBRE, their property management partner, they decided to change course and go green with steam.


Vicinity Energy was selected from among three local energy utilities, including electricity and natural gas, to provide the building with heat via cogenerated steam. At Vicinity’s suggestion, Two Liberty also incorporated a vertical flooding MCU model heat exchanger. This approach keeps exhaust at low enough temperatures that additional city water is not required for cooling, saving both on costs and the precious finite resource of fresh water. Vicinity also made a capital contribution to the project to support the switchover to steam.


This approach offers a 10-12% improvement in savings versus a traditional heating system, lowers capital costs and risks with the removal of in-building boilers, eliminates the need for vents and chimney space, and frees up valuable space in the building’s mechanical room.