DEN Begins Construction on Historic Energy Performance Contract

Denver International Airport, known as DEN, is the world’s third busiest airport serving over 68 million passengers in 2019. DEN also serves as the state’s largest economic engine, generating more than $33.5 billion annually for the state and the surrounding region. 

 In 2021 DEN announced Vision 100, an airport-wide strategic plan to develop capacity and infrastructure to accommodate 100 million passengers per year within ten years. Vision 100 outlines guiding principles focused on Sustainability and Resiliency and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The historic Energy Performance Contract (EPC) project is guided not only by DEN’s Vision 100 but also by its comprehensive Energy Plan developed in 2018. The plan emphasizes the importance of strengthening the airport’s energy culture, optimizing building performance and building resiliency and mirrors McKinstry’s Action for Impact efforts as well as our focus on Equity and Inclusion. The Energy Plan aims to solidify DEN as a sustainability leader and position the airport as the greenest in the world. 

In 2019, DEN selected McKinstry to perform an Investment Grade Audit (IGA) under the State of Colorado’s Energy Performance Contracting program, which is supported by the Colorado Energy Office (CEO). The IGA scope included 11 buildings, six parking lots and nearly 8 million square feet throughout DEN. The IGA goals were ambitious and included an assessment for reducing baseline energy use and costs by 20%, an evaluation of potential energy and water efficiency upgrades, an exploration of renewable energy opportunities and an evaluation to reduce maintenance challenges through improved reliability, resiliency and a lessened carbon footprint. The IGA also aimed to demonstrate how DEN could leverage resulting savings to complete upgrades, reduce future capital expenditures and meet its Division of Small Business Opportunity (DSBO) Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) contracting goal of 18%. With the project construction now underway the MWBEs within the local community are promised a minimum of $17 million in contracts throughout the course of the project.  

The findings of the IGA were powerful and inspiring to DEN’s leaders – the results showed what was possible. Based on the findings, McKinstry developed an $83 million Energy Performance Contract (EPC) with annual utility and operational cost savings of more than $4.5 million. DEN and McKinstry joined forces with the CEO, whose experts partner on EPC projects to provide coaching and technical assistance throughout the life cycle of the project. During project development, CEO provided DEN with third-party engineering review, energy savings validation and contracting assistance. CEO will continue to support DEN and McKinstry on this project, from implementation through measurement and verification. The DEN EPC is the largest ever performed in the state of Colorado.  

The construction for this record-breaking EPC project began in summer of 2022 and will continue over a 36-month period, followed by a 3-year period of on-going measurement and verification. The project includes replacing existing florescent lighting with 38,100 LED lamps, 932 toilet and 285 urinal flush valve retrofits, 715 flow restrictors on faucets, 61 low flow shower heads and new energy management control systems in Concourse A, Concourse C, Airport Office Building and Main Terminal. Changes to the airport plumbing are expected to reduce DEN’s sewer bills by $130,000 annually. In addition to McKinstry’s contributions, DEN remains dedicated to leveraging local partnerships by applying for rebates and incentives from local utility provider, Xcel Energy.  

McKinstry is proud to partner with DEN on the road to becoming the greenest airport in the world and applauds this monumental step toward carbon transformation.  


Denver, CO

Carbon Savings

30,278 metric tons annually



Square Footage

8 million sq ft

Services Provided

Energy Services 

Master Systems Integration (MSI) 

Active Energy Management (AEM)