Located in Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo) area, the Alliance Center is a six-story, 40,000-square-foot office building originally constructed as a warehouse in 1908. More than 100 years later, this historic structure was renovated into a sustainable, multi-tenant facility by its owner, The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado (the Alliance). With building improvements including a new digitally controlled HVAC system, energy-efficient fixtures and appliances, a lighting control system, translucent wall panels, sun shades, and a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) array, the two-year project transformed The Alliance Center into an extremely energy-efficient building. All onsite combustion of fossil fuels was eliminated, including the use of natural gas for heating, in favor of using solar or gridded electricity to meet all power needs.
To further decrease their carbon footprint, the Alliance launched its “DC project.” Devices such as computers, office equipment, and consumer electronics consume DC (direct current) power, generated by converting grid-supplied AC (alternating current) electricity to DC, an inefficient process. After exploring several options, 360 Engineering designed a system with the capacity to accept input from up to four different energy sources in addition to gridded electricity. By allowing the use of more solar (PV), wind, and any future clean energy technologies, this approach drastically lowered the Alliance Center’s reliance on the grid and further reduced its CO2 emission. During the project, 360 also collaborated with manufacturers to convert existing HVAC equipment to DC input, an effort that resulted in a research grant from Colorado State University to further study the potential energy savings of such HVAC AC-to-DC power conversions.
The facility has received several LEED certifications including Existing Building Operations and Maintenance LEED Gold, Commercial Interior LEED Silver, and Dynamic Plaque LEED Gold. It was the first facility in Colorado and fifth in the world to recertify based on ongoing building performance evaluation.