Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) Partners with Veolia Energy to Enhance Sustainability Efforts


Veolia Energy begins delivery of heating, hot water and air conditioning services to nine GRCC buildings that will save the college more than $850,000 during 15-year agreement

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Jan. 20, 2014 — Veolia Energy North America, a leading operator and developer of efficient energy solutions, has begun delivering steam to nine buildings on the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) campus for heating, hot water and air conditioning. The new agreement is part of GRCC's energy plan, which involves the retirement of the college's current boiler plant and connection to Veolia Energy's district energy network in downtown Grand Rapids. Joining Veolia Energy's network helps make the GRCC campus more sustainable and reduces its carbon footprint.
"Grand Rapids Community College is committed to furthering its ongoing sustainability efforts so that we are reducing the college's carbon footprint on our community," said Dr. Steven C. Ender, President of Grand Rapids Community College. "As well as enhancing the college's green-energy efforts, our new energy plan is expected to reduce facility operation expenses by more than $850,000 during the life of the contract. Our partnership with Veolia Energy makes good sense financially, and it is a great way to maintain our goal of being an eco-friendly community institution."
District energy already plays an integral role in Grand Rapids' infrastructure, where Veolia Energy serves approximately 120commercial, government, institutional and healthcare customers.The centrally-produced thermal energy is distributed to customers in the central business district via seven miles of pipeline.This summer, Veolia Energy installed additional piping to connect the company's network to the GRCC campus to enable the delivery of steam to the college by the fall. As part of this project, Veolia Energy partnered with neighboring St. Mark's Episcopal Church to gain access to the property to complete necessary connections. The strategic relationship between Veolia Energy and GRCC enhances sustainability efforts already underway by the college, including LEED qualified renovation and construction projects, light bulb replacement and utility credit initiatives, and implementation of a print management system for paper reduction, among other items.

"Grand Rapids Community College's leadership in improving both energy management and long-term capital planning serves as an example for other non-profit institutions and businesses," said Jim Monterusso, General Manager, Veolia Energy Grand Rapids."Veolia Energy is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainability, and our agreement with GRCC will not only strengthen our existing relationships in downtown Grand Rapids, but also enable us to bring additional energy products and services to West Michigan. Additionally, we commend all of our partners on the project, including St. Mark's Episcopal Church and Progressive AE for helping to make this plan possible."

Veolia Energy acquired the Kent County District Heating and Cooling system in November 2008.Since then, Veolia Energy has undertaken a systematic implementation process to increase the efficiency of the operations to ensure competitive steam rates for customers and a reduction in the carbon footprint of the plant. Three important examples are outlined below:
  • Installation of a Condensing Economizer (Heat Exchanger) - Placed into operation in November 2009, this major upgrade is a sophisticated heat recovery technology that recovers heat from the exhaust stacks to pre-heat water being fed to the boilers, and reduces the volume of fuel consumed by approximately 5 percent.A reduction in fossil fuel consumed means a reduced carbon footprint and lower cost per pound of steam produced.
  • Re-insulating Piping in Manholes - Re-insulating piping in manholes has helped to reduce heat loss to the atmosphere, which in turn has lowered the variable cost of steam to Veolia Energy's customers. 
  • Reducing Distribution System Leaks - The steam distribution system in Grand Rapids consists of approximately 6.0 miles of high pressure (125 psi) and 1.5 miles of low pressure (8 psi) mains.The low pressure system is mature, resulting in relatively high heat loss, and requiring significant maintenance expenditure.In 2012, Veolia Energy launched a plan to replace the low pressure system with high pressure distribution in the future.Eliminating portions of the low-pressure distribution steam system, without adversely affecting customers, will also improve the efficiency of the system and reduce the cost to customers.
After three full years of operation (2009-2012), these efforts have also driven higher energy and water efficiency as follows:
  • 5 percent boiler efficiency improvement
  • 13 percent decrease in the annual cost of consumables
  • 13 percent decrease in water usage per MMBtu
  • 3 million gallons of water conserved annually
About Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops, and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.
Veolia Energy North America is a leading U.S. operator and developer of efficient energy solutions. Veolia Energy's district energy business operations represent the largest portfolio of efficient heating, cooling, and green steam networks in North America. Visit the company's Web sitesat and
Veolia Environnement (Paris Euronext: VIE and NYSE: VE) is the worldwide reference in environmental solutions. With 220,000 employees*, the company has operations all around the world and provides tailored solutions to meet the needs of municipal and industrial customers in three complementary segments: water management, waste management and energy management. Veolia Environnement recorded revenue of $38.8 billion* in 2012. Twitter @veolia.

* Excluding Transdev employees and revenues currently under divestment

Press Contact

Karole Colangelo,
Veolia Environnement North America