Chair's Update Winter Issue 2019

By Jim Lodge posted 01-15-2019 16:15


I am just returning from the IDEA DistrictCooling2018 conference in Dubai where I was able to learn and participate in best practice discussions. What was certainly obvious at the conference is that no matter where district energy systems are located in the world, we share many common challenges operating our systems. Whether we operate a system for a university campus, downtown central business district or a hospital campus, we are one industry with an interest in learning from each other to improve how we manage and operate these systems. A special thank-you to Empower, our fantastic and very gracious host that provided tremendous support to the IDEA staff in planning the event and ensuring all attendees had a positive experience in Dubai. 

This year's theme, "the Global Renaissance of District Energy," and the "MIST" core strategies of

  • Marketing
  • International information exchange
  • Succession
  • Technology transfer

apply to owners and operators of district energy systems around the world. In Dubai, the district cooling market continues to grow rapidly, with a staggering 2 million tons of district cooling today, and in other parts of the world the district energy market continues to evolve as well. IDEA and its members continue to focus on the MIST strategies, and this was evident in Dubai. Topics such as rate methodologies and product offerings, recruitment and training, and technical approaches to various challenges were all discussed. These are all key areas of interest to our industry. 

At the latest board meeting there was much discussion related to the importance of marketing district energy, increasing awareness, communicating the value of district energy and attracting younger generations to the industry. Rob Thornton and several board members volunteered to identify what IDEA is already doing in this area and determine if more needs to be done. The results of this assessment will be communicated back to the directors at a future board meeting. 

I encourage you to have discussions with your IDEA Board of Directors and our CEO, Rob Thornton, on the issues and subjects that are critical to you. There are many opportunities for IDEA members to lead and participate in various subcommittees where the MIST core strategies are used as a foundation for fulfilling our mission and objectives. If you are interested in volunteering or serving as a director on the IDEA board please make your interest known. IDEA strives to maintain a diverse board that provides a balance of members representing owners and operators, consultants and suppliers with both technical and nontechnical backgrounds along with new members who provide many different perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in our industry. 

As we have come to expect over the last few years, there is already significant interest in CampusEnergy2019 in New Orleans, based on the number of people who have registered and booked their hotel accommodations. The conference will feature an in-depth technical, operations and maintenance, and financial program with presentations from representatives of universities and colleges, equipment suppliers, consultants, government agencies and other experts who support the district energy industry. In addition, there will be distribution and microgrid workshops prior to the official start of the conference and more than a hundred exhibitors available throughout the entire event who are eager to showcase their latest products and services. Finally, there will be plant tours as the conference closes out, so I urge you to sign up today. There is no better value for learning from the industry's leading experts while enjoying ample opportunities to network with other professionals and exchange the latest information on  district energy.

I look forward to welcoming everyone to New Orleans to a potentially record-setting conference!