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Heating Maryland’s oldest cultural institution

‘Green steam’ supplies reliable energy to a historic Baltimore landmark, while condensate is recycled to an exterior water feature – a creative solution that is helping to conserve water and reduce costs.


For over 30 years, the Baltimore district energy system has supplied thermal energy to this historic institution via an underground steam network. Used to provide heating and domestic hot water, Vicinity’s ‘green steam’ ensures occupant comfort, provides a unique water recycling solution and enables the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) to focus on its core mission of preserving Maryland’s past.


Founded in 1844, MdHS collects and preserves objects and materials reflecting Maryland’s diverse and unique heritage. Located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, the organization has resided at the historic Enoch Pratt House at 201 West Monument Street since 1919. Incorporating a museum, library, pavilion and exhibit storage space, the facility leverages steam from Vicinity’s Baltimore district energy network for heat and hot water. Serving more than 80,000 school students and teachers annually, the institution is focused on educating future generations about Maryland’s rich past, while also reducing its carbon footprint and keeping visitors comfortable.


Used to power onsite heat exchangers and hot water tanks, Vicinity’s district steam incorporates renewable ‘green steam’ originating from a waste-to-energy plant – making it a sustainable alternative to traditional onsite boilers. However, within the process of converting the steam into thermal energy, a portion of this steam reverts to condensate. Although this high temperature water is often cooled with city water and discarded as waste, the MdHS sought creative ways to reuse the condensate. In December of 2014, the institution devised a sustainable and economical solution – piping the condensate into a large reflecting pool located in the outdoor Meyerhoff Courtyard.


By recycling the condensate, instead of sending it down the drain, the museum is not only saving in sewer charges and city water costs, but also conserving our most precious resource: water. In addition, through its use of renewable ‘green steam,’ the building is not only benefitting from reliable energy, but also reducing its overall carbon footprint. Since 2013, the Maryland Historical Society has avoided a total of approximately 386,000 lbs of carbon – the equivalent of removing approximately 41 vehicles from the road.