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CenTrio wins the 2023 IDEA Innovation Award

By District Energy posted 06-22-2023 09:53


CenTrio, owner/operator of one of North America’s largest district energy portfolios, took home the prize for the 2023 IDEA Innovation of the Year in a ceremony held at IDEA2023 in Chicago, IL.

Their submission, National Western Center – P3 Project, located in the city and county of Denver, is a district energy system that will be the largest sewer-heat recovery district energy system of its kind in North America. As a greenfield re-development project, the National Western Center complex will ultimately transform the region into a hub for agriculture, food innovation, and heritage in the local Denver community. This project is extremely innovative for three reasons: the size of the project, the innovative technology, and the various impacts on the local community.

As Innovation Award Chair, Bob Smith, Vice President of RMF Engineering, noted “CenTrio really moved the needle this year by taking sustainability to a new level. Think about this, they are going to heat and cool a large development from sewage. A remarkable accomplishment”

“I’ve been working on this project since 2018,” said Leslie Fangman, Vice President of Corporate Expansion, speaking on behalf of the CenTrio leadership team. “I am very excited to be operating it now and to be leading the way for such unique green technology.”

“The National Western Center’s use of sewer heat recovery for a district energy utility service will help lead the way for other master developments seeking lower-carbon solutions.  CenTrio’s Innovation Award demonstrates how technology from IDEA business partners can be leveraged to enable others to learn from their experience.”  Said Rob Thornton, President & CEO of IDEA.  

You can read CenTrio’s submission here.

We are also pleased to thank CenTrio for their hospitality as official hosts for IDEA2023.

In recognition of the high number of diverse and worthy submissions, the IDEA Innovation Award Committee also awarded two Honorable Mention nods to the following organizations: Markham Springwater Geo-exchange District Community, submitted by Enwave Energy of Toronto and University of Massachusetts Amherst District Microgrid, submitted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

View UMass Submission

View Enwave Submission

Each year, the IDEA Innovation Award continues to showcase the ingenuity, know-how and initiative to find solutions to today’s energy and climate challenges.  The IDEA Innovation Award is intended to showcase the collaboration and problem-solving that results from IDEA business partners and district energy systems working together. Presented annually at IDEA's Annual Conference & Trade Show, submittals are  evaluated based on  four main categories:

  • Ingenuity: the project or technology should be a new technical, business, or operating practice that demonstrates  ingenuity.

  • Measured Success: the technology must be operational and working for a sustained period of time with demonstrated efficiency or success that can be measured.

  • Replicable: the innovation must be replicable, meaning that this idea can be easily applied elsewhere and is not a “one-off” application

  • Economic & Environmental: the innovation must demonstrate economic and environmental benefits.

Visit the IDEA Innovation Award page for more information. To learn more about IDEA, visit