The residents of the Denver Rescue Mission now have warm showers, energy-efficient dormitories and upgraded lighting, thanks to volunteer help from the local chapter of an international engineering association.

The work of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) will save the mission about a third of its annual energy costs. The project is part of the society’s 2013 Annual Conference that will take place in Denver June 22-26. Some 1,800 members are expected to attend.

The chapter overhauled the Denver Rescue Mission’s aged and deteriorating systems and replaced them with systems to improve efficiency and increase occupant comfort.

“The mission’s cause is outstanding, but its building is aged and was in need of many heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical improvements to continue with their operation,” said local ASHRAE-member Dave Olson, who champions the project.

“We are excited about the project ASHRAE has undertaken for Denver Rescue Mission,” said Brad Meuli, president/CEO of Denver Rescue Mission. “The Lawrence Street Shelter serves homeless and poor men, women and children on a daily basis through meals, shelter, food boxes, clothing, hygiene products and medical care.

“It’s a 24-hour-a-day operation with commercial laundry and kitchen operations. The targeted annual savings to Denver Rescue Mission is estimated at $19,000. Those savings will provide an additional 10,000 meals to those in need. It’s truly amazing to see this organization come together with expertise in each of their fields to make these greatly needed updates to our building. We simply cannot help as many people as we do without the generosity of our community,”

Meuli said.
The building contained an antiquated steam heating system, with less than 10 cast-iron radiators throughout the 23,000-sq-ft facility. Many of the daily clientele were forced to take a cold shower due to limited hot water. Users of the 200-bed upper floor dormitory slept in a densely populated room without adequate ventilation during much of the year.

Now, with the Rocky Mountain Chapter’s help, the steam system and controls have been upgraded, cooling has been added to some administrative areas and a new hybrid solar- and gas-fired domestic hot water heating system allows a warm shower for guests.

In addition, a new roof-mounted photovoltaic collection system provides necessary power for a new energy-recovery ventilator for the dormitory, and the building has been retrofitted throughout by a new highly efficient lighting system. All of it is controlled by a state-of- the-art, direct digital-control system.

“All this was provided at zero cost to the Denver Rescue Mission,” Olson said. “We estimate that the project will save the mission about a third of its annual energy expenditures, allowing them to reallocate operating expenses into serving the seemingly continuous stream of homeless men in need each night.”

The Lawrence Street Shelter is the Denver Rescue Mission's central outreach location. Tens of thousands of poor and needy people come to this facility each year for shelter, food, clothing, medical care, client services and chapel services, according to Olson. Families and individuals come to their “closet” for everything from warm gloves to business attire for job interviews.

Case managers help up to 2,000 individuals each month with needs such as food boxes, baby diapers, furniture, clothing, household goods and referrals to other agencies. Program participants can receive free medical, dental, optical and chiropractic treatment at the mission’s clinic.