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Sustainability is key for Denver Water’s modernized campus and distribution system

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Sustainability is key for Denver Water’s modernized campus and distribution system

The utility is showcasing a new admin building and a water reuse plan that’s a first for the state.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 11, 2020

Denver Water's new administration building has been designed to achieve net-zero energy standards. Images: Courtesy of Stantec

Last November, Denver Water, the largest water utility in Colorado, opened its new six-story, 186,000-sf administration building, located southeast of downtown Denver.

As part of the public agency’s multiphase modernization that linked eight new or fully renovated facilities within a 35-acre operations campus, the building was designed to achieve LEED-NC Platinum and Net Zero Energy certification standards. 

The administration building itself is long and thin, calling to mind a slot canyon formed by natural water flow over the years. 

Its sustainable features include onsite solar, a radiant slab powered by the complex’s central utility plant to conserve heat and energy, a high-efficiency triple pane-glazed window system, and biophilic design. The building also taps into one of the adjacent potable water conduits from Denver Water’s own water supply as a variable temperature heat-sync.


The utility's One Water program recycles water for use by the buildings on Denver Water's corporate campus.


To address water sustainability, Denver Water has developed “One Water,” a holistic distribution approach that manages the utility’s water resources for long-term resilience and reliability. Large water users, such as parks and cooling towers, often don’t require water that’s potable, which presents opportunities for putting alternative water supplies to work.

One of the most visible applications of One Water has been Denver Water’s recycled water system, which takes water used by homes and runs it through a wastewater plant to reintroduce the water safely into the built environment, at a nondrinking standard.

 The facility’s two most innovative “One Water” strategies are the rainwater capture for irrigation and onsite wastewater treatment and recycling for reuse in the admin building and on the site. The design of these systems is a first in Colorado, with Denver Water working to expand state regulations and clear a  path for other new developments to work on their own reuse solutions.

Jim Lochhead, Denver Water’s CEO and Manager, says that One Water is the culmination of nearly a decade of planning and years of construction. Stantec designed the new administration building, Mortenson Construction was the GC, and Trammell Crow the owner’s rep.

“Stantec’s commitment to sustainability aligns with Denver Water’s aspiration to make a long-lasting difference in the region,” says Josh Gould, Stantec’s Vice President-Buildings. “Together we pushed the boundaries of water use and reuse, creating safe and replicable water efficiency solutions that are scalable nationwide.”


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