Mixed-use project installs 400kW fuel cell

New Haven, Conn. Nonprofit environmental organization Fuel Cells 2000 said Wednesday that Connecticut has just made green history with the installation of a 400 kilowatt fuel cell at 360 State Street, a new 700,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use development in downtown New Haven, Conn.

“360 State is the first large-scale residential installation of a fuel cell in the world,” said Jennifer Gangi, program director for Fuel Cells 2000.

The fuel cell, a renewable power source, will provide combustion-free power to the 500 residential units, common areas and retail spaces within the building. It will meet nearly 100% of the building’s electric needs, as well as provide thermal energy for space heating, domestic hot water and the swimming pool.

The application of the fuel cell at 360 State Street is estimated to reduce the building’s carbon emissions by 790 metric tons annually when compared with the U.S. EPA eGrid emissions factor for non-baseload generation in the New England ISO utility system.

“On-site fuel cell technology represents the future of electricity generation in this country,” said Bruce Becker, president, Becker + Becker, the building’s developer and architect. “Traditionally, large capacity fuel cells are utilized at schools, hospitals, and other energy-intensive facilities but multi-family residential buildings represent a perfect -- heretofore uncultivated -- opportunity for fuel cell technology because of their ability to continually utilize the fuel cell’s process heat in the form of hot water and space heating demand.”

In addition to the fuel cell, 360 State incorporates a spectrum of energy efficiency measures. The building’s performance will be tracked in real-time and available publicly via a web portal and lobby display, showing electric, natural gas, renewable energy, and water consumption patterns. Utilizing the latest innovations in smart grid technology, tenants will be able to track their own water, electric, and thermal energy usage; they will also be able to participate in a regional demand response program, helping to shed load from the utility grid when it is peaking.

360 State is a certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Plan, the first in the nation to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council in the Pilot Neighborhood Development Program for exemplifying the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green design.

The 360 State Street fuel cell required a large upfront investment by the primary investor in the building, The Multi-Employer Property Trust, a Union Pension fund committed to responsible property investing. The project received a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund to cover nearly half the cost of the fuel cell unit. This assistance, in addition to the annual energy savings the fuel cell will produce, allow for a payback of 5.5 years.

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