recycle all the things seattleAmazon’s new Denny Triangle location in Seattle will warm up via waste heat from a data center housed in a skyscraper right across the street.

The project, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, will send water back and forth through underground pipes. It could pave the way for a larger area of Seattle to recycle energy similarly.

“I think it’s outstanding,” said city council member Mike O’Brien. “It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a while. I see it as having huge potential for our community.”

The system will help Amazon and Clise Properties use less electricity and water, and therefore save money at the same time. The project will be a model for efficient energy use.

“We have a commitment as a city to become carbon-neutral by 2050,” O’Brien said. “Some structural changes need to happen, and one of them is having district energy systems that allow us to manage energy use and reduce waste.”

The system will harness the heat generated by computers and servers from inside the Westin Building skyscraper. Currently, the data center gets rid of its waste heat by sending water through cooling towers. With the new system, the hot water will be sent underground to the Amazon campus where the waste heat will be extracted to warm the campus before returning to the Westin Building to cool the date center.

The timeline for this project is not yet set because it needs final approval from the city of Seattle. The finalized system will save about 80 million kilowatt hours of electricity over a period of 25 years, which could equal hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Recycling Rice Bags

recycling seattle rice bagsTwo volunteers who spend their time at a food bank in Seattle, called Northwest Harvest, are now furthering their volunteer efforts at home. Lesa Dragon and Linda Childs are spending their time taking large empty rice bags and recycling them into reusable shopping bags. The rice bags are large, tough, difficult to recycle, and would otherwise end up in a landfill.

The two have already made 20 reusable bags that will be distributed to those who use the food bank. “They are very strong. You can easily put 50 pounds of food in them without any effort at all,” said Childs.

Dragon and Childs want to train more people in Seattle to be able to make the bags, as Northwest Harvest ends up having over 21,000 of the large rice bags each year.


Millions of Electronics Recycled

Since 2009, residents of Washington state recycled more than 250 million pounds of computers, TVs, and other various electronics.

Many of these electronics contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the ground and are dangerous to the environment. A few of these include lead, cadmium, and mercury. An estimated 23 million pounds of lead has been kept out of landfills thanks to Washington’s e-cycle program.

Collected equipment is taken apart so that the toxins can be separated from other materials that can be recycled, such as glass, plastic, and metals.

Residents of Seattle or other Washington cities can take their electronics to be recycled for free. The program is funded by electronics manufacturers per a 2006 state law.