At IDEA2015: Inspiring the Next Generation (June 28 – July 1, 2015), hosted by the International District Energy Association (IDEA), energy experts from around the world gathered to explore the latest trends and innovations in district energy, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and microgrids for cities, communities and campuses. Marking its 106th annual conference, this year’s event featured more than 100 visionary speakers and over 950 attendees – representing 21 countries, 39 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces – that are active in making cities and communities around the world more sustainable and resilient.
“After decades of business-as-usual, the utility and energy industries are quickly transforming the way we generate, distribute and value energy, particularly as it relates to more sustainable and resilient cities and communities,” said Rob Thornton, President and CEO of the IDEA. “Bringing together the public and private sectors at our 106th annual conference will help drive more investment and dedication to build a more reliable and sustainable energy system. In addition, it is noteworthy that we held this year’s conference in Boston, which is leading the way in urban sustainability as evidenced by the recognition of the City by the UN’s Environment Program and why IDEA honored Veolia’s Boston-Cambridge network with our 2015 ‘System of the Year’ award.”
This year’s conference marked the North American launch of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global District Energy in Cities Initiative and its flagship publication ‘District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy’. UNEP called for accelerated global deployment of modern district energy in cities to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen local economies. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership, USDN Network and US EPA Clean Power Plan all recognize district energy/CHP as strategic energy infrastructure. During the conference, the City of Boston signed on as a Champion City to the Initiative and was joined by industrial associations and private partners such as Johnson Controls.
“After Warsaw and Belgrade, UNEP welcomes the City of Boston’s commitment to join the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative,” said Mark Radka, Chief the UNEP Energy, Climate and Technology Branch at UNEP. “Cities are starting to realize that modern district energy can be a key element of their climate change response. A transition to modern district energy could enable cities and countries to improve their energy efficiency for heating and cooling while pursuing 100 percent renewable energy or carbon neutral targets. We must use the momentum gained at the regional launch of the Global District Energy in Cities initiative in Boston to boost ambition ahead of the Paris Climate Conference (COP21).”
IDEA2015 brought together city planners and sustainability directors to discuss how they are seeking proven solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, optimize local resources, enhance economic resiliency and strengthen critical energy infrastructure. In addition, there was significant discussion about emerging business opportunities as traditional utilities continue a profound paradigm shift that will drive new business models with more distributed generation assets that better integrate thermal energy, storage, renewables, microgrids and pro-sumer interactivity. This year, the IDEA System of the Year Award was presented to Veolia’s Boston-Cambridge network in recognition of their investment in CHP at the Kendall Station facility, which will produce significant economic and environmental benefits to the region.
“We are honored to have our Boston-Cambridge network recognized by IDEA, which reflects the significant investment we have made into the system including over $100 million as part of the ‘Green Steam’ project that we completed last year,” said Vincent Martin, Senior Vice President Northeast Region of Veolia’s North American Municipal and Commercial Business Lines. “Veolia is excited to take part in IDEA2015 during a time when more and more cities and customers across the United States and the world are embracing the economic and environmental benefits of connecting to district energy systems.”
During the conference, IDEA also highlighted new research including a new white paper that details how district energy and CHP can serve as tools to meet the EPA’s 111(d) compliance requirements along with a new report from Energy Efficiency Markets on community microgrids. The report also looks at climate risk and exposure to develop a more reliable heat and power supply, the chance to utilize local and renewable fuel sources and reduced energy costs.
The International District Energy Association (IDEA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) industry association founded in 1909 and governed by a 22-member Board of Directors. IDEA represents over 2000 members who are district heating and cooling executives, managers, engineers, consultants and equipment suppliers from 26 countries. Association members operate district energy systems owned by utilities, municipalities, hospitals, military bases and airports throughout North America and around the world. Visit http://www.districtenergy.org for more information or follow us on Twitter at @districtenergy.