So, this inbox item caught my eye recently:


Microsoft is partnering with the city of Cheyenne, the University of Wyoming and Fuel Cell Energy to build the first zero carbon data center that will be completely independent of the grid and will not rely on natural gas. Located next to a water treatment plant, the 200KW data center will turn waste into data.

I’d give you the full statement’s URL from Microsoft’s blog, but it’s tidier for you to just search for “Microsoft biogas” if you’re interested. And how does one turn waste into data, so to speak? Basically, the biogas from the waste at the treatment plant will be harnessed to power fuel cells at the data center.

The full post does point out one convenient fact helping the project team: both halves of this clever facility coupling are 24/7 operations. The old saying mentions death and taxes, but in the modern world, internet usage and trips to the loo run a pretty close second.

This project is just getting started, but we’ll keep an eye on its progress and whether it might be practical as a means to reduce the load on the grid in other areas.



If it’s the end of the year, that means another AHR/ASHRAE HVACapalooza is right around the corner. Our friend and former columnist Ken Sinclair of will be back in action with more free presentations this year. Ken’s sessions are always worthwhile for those interested in the present and future of the building automation industry. He’ll join us in these pages next month for some commentary in advance of the festivities, and we’ll list some specifics as well.

We’ll also have our usual “show article” featuring new products from AHR exhibitors. It’s our annual attempt to bring a little of the Expo floor to those of you who aren’t attending but want to keep up with what’s new. Along those lines, another relatively new development for the big week is ASHRAE’s “virtual conference” option, complementing the regular battery of technical sessions and seminars. Check out the details at their website.



Lingering in the ASHRAE universe a little longer, I always like to check out the Technology Awards winners when they are announced around this time of year. The Society reports that this batch includes a fire station, hospital, university recreation center, nature museum, offices, and even a national energy laboratory.

C-K Joseph Tai, P.E. and his team at San Francisco’s Stantec Consulting, Inc. also picked up an Award of Engineering Excellence for their work on a facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That’s noteworthy because unlike the Technology Awards, the engineering award has been given only two other times since 2000. The building’s very mission is to convey the possibilities for other projects: “The criteria for designing the building included an absolute energy use intensity (EUI) goal of 35kBtu/sf/year, net-zero energy and the ability to use the building as a living lab to demonstration energy efficiencies strategies.”



Here at the end of the year, I want to deliver a special thanks to our columnists, Rebecca Ellis, Howard McKew, Paul Ehrlich, and Amanda Parolise. Amid busy schedules, they’ve made time every month to distill insights, consider conundrums, and generally provide the core voice of the magazine. I appreciate their willingness to share what they know and try to illuminate a path toward better work in the industry, and I know a lot of you do, too.

And of course, a big thank you and Happy New Year to you for reading and supporting us for another year! Wishing you a productive, healthy, happy 2013. ES




“Improving Backup Power

Performance With Energy-Efficient Critical Loads”

Presented by John A. Seryak, P.E.

(CEO, Go Sustainable Energy, LLC)

Sponsored by Kohler Power Systems


Here are just a few of the topics in our webinar archives at


Chilled Beams

Heat Recovery


Boiler Rules

Heat Pipe Systems

Firetube Boilers

Enthalpy Wheels





2013 ASHRAE Winter Conference

Dallas. For info,



AHR Expo

Int’l Exposition Co.

Dallas. For info,