GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Waste Water Treatment Plant has completed the first phase of an energy efficiency program with OpTerra Energy Services. The program is aligned with the city’s sustainability goals and is expected to save $2.2 million in energy costs over the next 15 years.

Starting in 2013, leadership at the Waste Water Treatment Plant collaborated with OpTerra to achieve substantial fiscal savings through the implementation of plant upgrades focused on energy performance and expected energy escalation rates. While the development of the project was centered on improving air controls and HVAC efficiency, the city and OpTerra worked together to identify energy efficiency opportunities that would best fit the needs of the city while achieving its rigorous sustainability goals.

As part of its sustainability plan, Grand Rapids has integrated a focus on improving sustainability outcomes as a natural extension of effective city operations and high quality of residential life. The Waste Water Treatment Plant is the first city facility that has utilized a performance contract with a concentrated focus on measuring sustainability outcomes tied to economic, environmental, and social impacts of building performance. From contributing to broader city sustainability targets like reducing carbon emissions by 10,000 metric tons and increasing energy efficiency and conservation at city facilities by 10 percent, the Waste Water Treatment Plant has used the performance contract model to fund facility improvements that showcase sustainable impact in motion, while ensuring uninterrupted and reliable service to rate-payers.

The full energy program was designed and developed by a Michigan-based team of OpTerra engineers alongside city and Waste Water Treatment Plant stakeholders. The program included building enhancements that feature energy recovery from final effluent to heat and cool the administrative building, as well as comprehensive boiler replacement and temperature controls across separate building locations. By reducing its need for utility power, the city will also reduce its CO2 emissions by 2,835 tons.

These initial energy efficiency improvements have built a foundation for the possibility of a biosolids application project on site at the plant in the next year. By first reducing energy consumption through the completed energy efficiency measures, the city can now effectively scope how to harness energy capacity on site through a next phase of work.

“It has been a great experience partnering with the city of Grand Rapids to help achieve their sustainability goals across facilities, starting with the Waste Water Treatment site,” said John Mahoney, chief executive officer of OpTerra Energy Services. “Grand Rapids is setting the bar for other municipalities across the country to show how energy efficiency improvements can jumpstart a long-term sustainability plan with multiple benefits to the environment, the economy, and the local community.”

For more information, visit

Publication date: 12/7/2015

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!