National Western Center

One of North America’s largest sewer heat-recovery systems, CenTrio and its partners are leading the way for district energy systems and decarbonizing Denver using clean energy from wastewater.

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Industry Challenge

The city and county of Denver and the National Western Center (NWC) Authority had a challenge of creating a low-carbon campus that was sustainable and regenerative.The city’s goals included decarbonizing commercial buildings and achieving net zero energy by 2040. There was a unique opportunity to revitalize and bring a legendary Colorado space up to modern standards of sustainability.

CenTrio Solution

CenTrio’s approach places emphasis on optimizing the project over its full lifecycle. Our team brought a strong technical partnership with the financial resources to deliver a one-stop solution to design, build, finance, and operate this innovative campus energy system. NWC will source nearly 90 percent of its heating and cooling from an underground sewer pipeline - a recycled source of thermal energy. This district energy system pumps warm or cool water via a closed-loop network of pipes from a central plant to a group of buildings, instead of each building having its own boilers and chillers.

Value Delivered

In April 2022, the project reached substantial completion to transform the NWC into a modern, sustainable campus environment while advancing the City’s decarbonization goals, reducing carbon footprint by 70 percent, water consumption by 80 percent, and emphasizing innovation, operational excellence and academic collaboration. The results are high efficiency, lower capital costs, and a reliable and resilient energy source.

By the Numbers

MW of Heating Capacity
Million Square Feet of Buildings Thermally Heated and Cooled
MW of Cooling Capacity
Year Agreement

NWC demonstrates the sustainability success we can achieve when we work together to create and deliver innovative, affordable and reliable energy solutions to our customers.


  • The campus will avoid 2,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – equivalent to eliminating 6.6 million passenger vehicle miles per year
  • 70 percent reduction in carbon footprint
  • Largest installed sewer heat recovery system in North America
  • 80 percent reduction in water consumption


"We made a promise to be at the forefront of sustainability, and we're delivering. Knowing we have to heat and cool our buildings one way or another, we chose an innovative, clean-energy system that’s both beneficial for our campus and for our community."

Brad Buchanan, CEO, National Western Center
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