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Exploring Innovation in District Energy Systems: The 2024 IDEA Innovation Award is open for submissions

By District Energy posted 03-07-2024 14:53

Energy is the lifeblood that powers our societies and propels us forward. To ensure sustainable growth, we must recognize innovative solutions that not only drive economic progress but also prioritize minimal environmental impact. Year in and year out, IDEA members lead the way in technology, engineering and operational innovation. These innovations leverage the advantages of district energy to maximize energy efficiency, reduce energy and water consumption and enhance resilience.

To recognize the gains made by IDEA members, each year our organization hands out the Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award to recognize collaboration and innovation among and between IDEA member organizations.  The deadline to apply for the Innovation Award is Friday, April 12th and the award will be given out at IDEA2024 in Orlando, Florida.

If you are interested in participating and have an interesting innovation to share, we encourage you to peruse the information below regarding our previous winners. This will provide you with valuable insights into their accomplishments and experiences, which may serve as a source of inspiration!

IDEA Innovation Award Committee Chair Bob Smith and IDEA
President & CEO, Rob Thornton present CenTrio with the 2023 IDEA
Innovation Award.

2023 Innovation of the Year Award Winner

CenTrio, owner and 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 in Chicago.  The company received the award for its National Western Center system – a P3 Project located in Denver.

The National Western Center project is a true redevelopment effort. It was envisioned to convert the Colorado State University campus—situated on 94 acres and host to the annual National Western Stock Show—into a 250-acre development used throughout the year as an economic, tourism and entertainment hub. In 2019, CenTrio partnered with AECOM and Saunders Construction, Inc. to design, construct, and operate a cutting-edge integrated campus energy system for the 250-acre complex.

Delivering on Decarbonization with District Energy Systems
With the National Western Center system in Denver, CenTrio is at the forefront of implementing wastewater as an energy source. This system is not only the largest sewer-heat recovery system in North America, but it is also the nation’s largest wastewater energy district at a 3.8 MW capacity.

The use of heat from existing sewer pipes is an innovative technology that helps decarbonize the system’s energy source. The sewer heat recovery system has over 12 MW of heating and cooling capacity and sources nearly 90% of its heating and cooling from the recovery of existing sewer heat.  The project reduces the overall carbon footprint by 70% and reduces water consumption by 80% - the water saved would fill the equivalent of 5 Olympic size swimming pools. Utilizing this environmentally-savvy system, the National Western Center will decrease carbon emissions by an estimated 2,600 metric tons per year — the emissions equivalent of driving a car for a staggering 6.6 million miles per year.

The National Western Center project also has a tangible impact on the local community. The complex is connected to its surrounding neighborhoods which allows for the transfer of heat between the sewer system and buildings through a closed distribution loop, with no changes in existing infrastructure needed to use this new source of energy. The redevelopment project will also include solar PV systems to be built in community solar gardens.

Submit Your Application for the 2024 Innovation Award
In 2024, the Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award continues to showcase the ingenuity, know-how and initiative needed to find solutions to today’s energy and climate challenges. This award showcases the substantial environmental benefits of district energy projects in areas such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting renewable energy integration, and fostering more sustainable energy practices in urban environments.

If you are interested in submitting your organization’s system for this year’s award, here is what you need to know. The award is presented annually at IDEA's Annual Conference & Trade Show, and 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.
The Innovation Award winners represent impactful real-world examples of the amazing work happening in our industry. And, at IDEA2024 in Orlando on June 17-20, we get to introduce them to the world when we announce this year’s winner.

The deadline to submit applications for the 2024 Innovation Award is Friday, April 12. Submit your application right now to be considered.

#Innovation Award