Hotel Phillips leverages district energy to optimize guests’ experiences and lower its carbon footprint




Kansas City, MO

Square footage


The customer

Opening its doors to guests in 1931, Hotel Phillips is an iconic Art Deco building located in the heart of downtown Kansas City. With 217 rooms, the 20-story landmark was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Many of the original details remain today, including the walnut paneling, intricate metalwork, a 20-story mail chute, Art Deco lighting fixtures, a speakeasy, and a gilded statue of the goddess Dawn. The hotel’s historic character, state-of-the-art amenities, and superior guest services provide a unique experience for all visitors.  

The challenge

Due to the building’s aging infrastructure and need for upgrades—mainly replacing the cooling tower—Hotel Phillips needed a cost-effective solution to provide efficient cooling to keep guests comfortable. The owners considered the complexity of chillers, the associated annual maintenance costs, and the staffing required for safe and efficient operation. Given these concerns, Hotel Phillips wanted to explore cooling options to reduce operational complexity and disruptive downtime. 

The solution

Since Vicinity already supplied Hotel Phillips with green steam for over two decades, switching to district chilled water rather than purchasing onsite chillers was a seamless and easy decision. To support the hotel in connecting to the chilled water system, Vicinity invested capital in the expansion project, including street repairs, landscaping, and beautification to benefit the surrounding Kansas City community. With Vicinity’s operations and maintenance (O&M) support and dedicated customer service, the hotel now benefits from improved operational efficiency, increased reliability, and expert help on demand. 

We’ve been very happy with our longstanding steam service from Vicinity, and look forward to the additional efficiency, reliability and peace of mind we can expect from their chilled water service. Keeping our guests comfortable is our number one priority and we’re also so proud to be reducing our carbon footprint in the process,” states Hotel Phillips General Manager John Glenn of Arbor Lodging Partners LLC. 

Reducing upfront capital investments 

The switch to Vicinity’s chilled water substantially reduced the hotel’s upfront capital expenses, associated operations, and maintenance costs. With a lower total cost of ownership than onsite chillers, Hotel Phillips can now repurpose funds and staff hours to core business operations, optimizing guests’ experiences.  

Achieving a lower carbon footprint beyond the building 

Swapping the hotel’s cooling tower with chilled water yields a sizeable reduction in the hotel’s water and energy consumption, resulting in a net environmental benefit to the city. As Vicinity advances its net zero carbon plan across all its operations, Kansas City customers, like Hotel Phillips, will continue to receive greener energy solutions and reduce their carbon footprint. Vicinity’s district energy system in Kansas City plays a pivotal role in creating a sustainable, cleaner future.


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Upfront capital savings

99.99% reliability 

Less maintenance

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Summer readiness checklist

As temperatures rise, it’s time to ensure HVAC systems are geared up for the summer heat to optimize building systems’ performance, conserve energy, and keep occupants comfortable.

Whether buildings use district chilled water or operate onsite chillers and cooling towers, regularly reviewing and implementing this guide ensures proactive building readiness for summer temperatures, helps maximize equipment lifespan, and improves overall energy efficiency.

Print out this summer preparedness checklist and review it every spring to prepare staff and equipment for the coming warm temperatures. Please note that the steps will vary depending on the equipment present onsite.

Contact your account manager to explore partnering with Vicinity’s operations and maintenance experts to assist with summer readiness, equipment upgrades, or preventative maintenance programs.

Vicinity leverages best practices at its central facilities to provide a smooth transition into the summer season. These protocols ensure safe, reliable, and consistent operation to prevent service disruptions for customers who leverage chilled water or steam for cooling purposes. Vicinity’s interconnected energy facilities offer 99.99% uptime energy delivery with resiliency through redundant power and fuel sources.

Vicinity’s summer preparedness includes extensive cooling tower and chiller inspection and cleaning at Vicinity’s central facilities that produce chilled water, including basin cleaning, sterilization to prevent bacteria growth, and oil inspections on gearboxes and fan belts. Vicinity also performs eddy current testing to detect leaks on chiller tubes and inspects refrigerant and oil samples. By taking these proactive steps, Vicinity delivers reliable customer service year-round and reduces the maintenance needed onsite at customers’ buildings.

Flashcube’s luxury apartments keep tenants comfortable year-round


Residential real estate 


Kansas City, MO

Square footage


The customer

Constructed in 1974, the nine-story, 207,000 square foot Executive Plaza building epitomizes the late-modern architectural style. Due to its abstract reflective glass curtain wall, the building became known simply as “Flashcube.” This architecturally significant building earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a centerpiece of Kansas City.  

In 2020, the building underwent an extensive renovation, transforming from a vacant and outdated office building into luxury apartments. Today, Flashcube is home to 184 apartments and nearly 18,000 square feet of premier co-working office space. Tenants enjoy state-of-the-art amenities, including an indoor soccer field, rock climbing wall, indoor basketball courts, and a resident lounge and game room. 

The challenge

Because Flashcube sat vacant for more than 15 years, the onsite chillers and boilers were prohibitively expensive to resurrect. The plans to convert the building from office space to multi-family residences required a complete demolition of the interior space. This transformation presented many different mechanical system options for the owners to consider. The building owner also needed individual metering at each apartment to empower tenants to control their individual energy consumption and expenses.  

The solution

With an eye towards innovation, sustainability, and cost control, Flashcube’s owners explored a more reliable and cost-effective heating and cooling system. An extensive third-party analysis compared the lifecycle cost of onsite chillers and boilers, district energy, a water source heat pump system, variable refrigerant system technology, and a residential split system. When accounting for the costs of installation, maintenance, energy, water, and capital replacement cycles, it was determined that district energy provided the best overall lifecycle cost.  

Lower costs, higher reliability 

By choosing Vicinity’s district energy network, Flashcube’s new owners saw a reduction in construction costs by removing the need for onsite heating and cooling generation equipment, reutilization of existing piping, reduced electrical infrastructure, and tenant metering solutions. While reducing ongoing operating costs, district energy helped boost reliability for tenants.   

A multipurpose solution 

District energy helps keep Flashcube’s tenants comfortable and safe year-round. Vicinity’s district chilled water connects with simple heat exchangers to tenant fan coils, which eliminates the need for complex, large chillers and cooling towers onsite. District steam is used for building heat, domestic water heating, and a snow melt system, eliminating the need for large onsite boilers and water heaters. 

Reducing and reusing resources 

Rather than being discarded as waste, the condensate from the steam generation is used to pre-heat Flashcube’s domestic hot water and is then recycled as grey water to supply the building’s toilets. By recovering the steam condensate to heat the domestic hot water supply and grey water system, this steam biproduct saves money, energy, and city water. 

Repurposing space for tenant needs 

Another advantage of forgoing onsite chillers and boilers is new usable building space. By designing its heating and cooling needs around district energy, the owners of Flashcube have additional room for unique tenant amenities—all while leveraging an energy source that is driving carbon reductions. In fact, the mechanical and backup house space in the basement is now an inviting office space for tenants to access.  



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Lifecycle cost savings

building space 

Lifting Kansas City’s spirits with district energy


Industrial and manufacturing


Kansas City, MO

Square footage


The customer

Within a renovated 19th century stable in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City is Lifted Spirits, a unique craft distillery and event space. Upstairs in their “Hayloft,” where horse feed and bedding were once stored, is a beautiful event space that customers can rent out to enjoy delicious spirits while making lasting memories. This former stable was constructed in the 1890s and converted into a high-end craft distillery in 2016. Ever since, Lifted Spirits has been a staple of the Kansas City community, featuring local artists’ work and hosting seasonal events. The distillery has even been recognized with awards from leading industry organizations, including the New York International Spirits Competition, International Spirits Competition, and American Distilling Institute.   

The challenge 

Lifted Spirits previously relied on a single onsite gas boiler to meet its energy needs. However, after a few years of navigating the complexities, repairs, and maintenance required to upkeep this aging equipment, the new owners sought an energy alternative. The challenge was finding an energy source that would reliably, cost-effectively, and sustainably supply proper control of heat and an abundance of hot water for the distilling process. 

The solution 

After evaluating the lifecycle costs of several energy options, Lifted Spirits’ owners decided that district energy was the optimal solution for meeting their heat and hot water needs, while also achieving significant energy savings. 

Reliable service for a precise distillation process 

Because the distillation process requires precise control for a significant amount of steam, a reliable and high-quality thermal energy source was crucial. Lifted Spirits chose Vicinity in part due to the 99.999% reliability rate associated with its resilient district energy system. 

High-quality food-grade steam 

In Kansas City, the district steam system generates food-grade steam, or culinary steam, to serve manufacturing and industrial customers who use steam in the production of food-related products. Culinary steam is necessary for the distillation process to ensure that Lifted Spirits continues to produce high-quality beverages. Providing a consistent, high-quality product is critical to Lifted Spirits’ overall business and brand reputation, helping drive customer loyalty.  

Achieving cost-savings 

After considering alternative boiler options and comparing the costs and efficiencies of each, Lifted Spirits chose Vicinity’s district energy system to achieve more competitive energy pricing and eliminate labor costs associated with boiler operations. Through a simple connection to the Kansas City district system funded by Vicinity, the distillery now enjoys cost effective thermal energy with minimal upfront capital costs. 

Freeing up mechanical space for business operations 

Without Lifted Spirits’ onsite gas boiler, the owners are able to leverage the added interior space for core business operations. Because the distillery hosts tours, tastings, and custom events, every square foot of space is valuable to enhance Lifted Spirits’ business operations and customers’ experiences.  


Precise steam control

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Lifecycle and upfront cost savings

Maximized building space 

Food-grade, clean steam​

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Less maintenance

99.99% reliability  ​

Pumps & Systems podcast: Heat pumps & decarbonization

In this episode of the Pumps & Systems podcast, Bill DiCroce, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vicinity Energy discussed the role heat pumps can play in decarbonization, as well as the efforts cities like Boston are currently making to strive for sustainability and an eventual goal of net zero carbon emissions.

Recommended preventative maintenance

Vicinity’s comprehensive maintenance services are offered year-round—during peak usage or before system turn-ons—to optimize steam efficiency, reliability, and cost savings.

Improve the operating performance of steam systems by taking preventive steps to avoid energy losses. Customers who have leveraged Vicinity’s preventive maintenance program have experienced the following benefits:

  • Conserved energy and reduced energy costs by improving system performance and eliminating inefficiencies.
  • Improved reliability by identifying problem areas that could cause unscheduled system outages.
  • Optimized capital expenditure and operating expenses by maximizing system efficiency and strategically planning for infrastructure investments with an identified budget for equipment repair or replacement.
  • Improved operating procedures by reviewing, refining, and documenting preventative maintenance best practices.
We partner with each of our customers to customize recurring service agreements for the summer and winter seasons, tailoring the maintenance services below to their specific needs. Reach out to your Account Manager today to understand the preventative maintenance services offered in your district.

Steam traps

  • Service description: Survey building, locate, identify, tag, and test steam trap performance.
  • Maintenance value: Ensure steam traps function correctly and prevent issues that can lead to energy waste, equipment damage, and safety hazards.

Pressure Regulating Valves (PRVs)

  • Service description: Identify valves’ make, model, size, and serial number. Test pilot valve for leaks, clean orifices, check diaphragm plates, test the gauging, and set to desired system pressure.
  • Maintenance value: Prevent system over-pressurization and relief valves from releasing steam into the atmosphere. Failed PRVs may improperly cycle open and close, both oversupplying and then starving the downstream equipment of steam.


  • Service description: Inspect screens and clean out debris, evaluate source of debris, and troubleshoot. Ensure blow-down valves are functioning properly to flush trapped material.
  • Maintenance value: Reduce rust and pipe scale damage to valves and pumps. Ensure heat transfer surfaces are kept free of efficiency reducing deposits.

Heat exchangers

  • Service description: Perform water chemistry testing, determine if leaks exist, measure tube thickness, repair or plug tubes as needed, and perform preventative maintenance, such as hydrolasing or cleaning as needed.
  • Maintenance value: Recover efficiency losses, optimize operation of the exchangers, and reduce energy consumption.

Steam pipe

  • Service description: Inspect steam piping. Check for leaking joints, watermarks on insulation, and corrosion.
  • Maintenance value: Deliver safe and reliable steam into the building while reducing potential for steam emissions into the building.

Condensate return line

  • Service description: Inspect for leaks and corrosion. Check condensate pump seals for leaks. Check vent pipes for vapor emissions.
  • Maintenance value: Avoid condensate water spills, ensure proper evacuation of condensate from system lines, and identify the presence of leaking steam traps in the system.

Mechanical room hot water loop

  • Service description: Inspect all piping, inlet/outlet temperatures, and pressures on heat exchangers and mechanical pumps.
  • Maintenance value: Confirm adequate operation of key energy transfer equipment, such as heat exchangers, which supply building heat, hot water, or other process loads.

Seasonal and maintenance shutdowns/turn-ons

  • Service description: Manage closure and opening of Vicinity’s main service valve for seasonal system curtailment or start of use. Shutdowns require draining of systems while turn-ons require both draining of systems and operating pressure checks.
  • Maintenance value: Ensure safe and confined operation of Vicinity’s main service valve for shutdowns/turn-ons related to seasonal changes and maintenance activities. Reduce radiant energy losses, condensate accumulation in system piping, and mechanical room air space temperature. Prevent pipes from rotting and prepare systems to be dormant for an extended period by draining the systems for shutdowns.