Chair's Update 2019 Spring/Summer Issue

By Jim Lodge posted 04-17-2019 16:28


The Chair's Update was featured in the 2019 Spring/Summer Issue of District Energy Magazine

I hope you were able to attend the most recent IDEA campus conference held in New Orleans. We set a new record, with nearly 1,100 attendees. The campus conference has continued to grow since the inaugural event held in 1988 at Princeton University, which was attended by 33 people. In fact, attendance has more than doubled in just 10 years, a demonstration of the value that our members see in the conferences. And while quality content is always critical for a successful event, so is the host. Enwave did a superb job of rolling out the red carpet for our attendees. Not only did the company provide informative plant tours demonstrating its focus on reliability, but we were able to enjoy yummy homemade New Orleans beignets prepared by Enwave’s own local staff! 

IDEA’s theme this year, “The Global Renaissance of District Energy” and the “MIST” core strategies of 

  • Marketing 
  • International information exchange 
  • Succession 
  • Technology transfer 

apply to universities that own and operate district energy systems not only in North America but around the world – as evidenced by the 14 countries represented at CampusEnergy2019. Topics discussed through case studies and presentations exemplified two of our MIST strategies: international information exchange and technology transfer. 

In addition, IDEA has continued to focus on the third MIST strategy, succession. I am happy to announce that Rob Thornton has agreed to a contract extension. Rob has been instrumental to the success of IDEA due to his industry knowledge, dedication and hard work for more than 20 years, and he is demonstrating his further commitment to IDEA, its members and the industry well into the future. Succession is also a topic within the industry as a large portion of the workforce is approaching retirement. There is also an urgent need to update and modernize our aging facilities. Our physical assets – along with our people – are getting older, and we need to plan for both! 

Last, but not least, the first MIST strategy, marketing, has been a growing topic of discussion within the IDEA Board of Directors. IDEA needs to focus on educating the market on the value of district energy with an emphasis on the messaging and branding of our technology. People in the energy industry continue to get bombarded with various messaging on such topics as the electrification of the grid, renewable energy, resiliency, carbon neutrality and microgrids. District energy can be a key to supporting many of these initiatives, but our message needs to be carefully developed and communicated so that the energy industry understands district energy has its own modernization initiatives and is fully prepared to meet our country’s future energy requirements. 

There is a “Global Renaissance of District Energy” underway, and it is our responsibility to ensure we market our industry effectively. We will have that opportunity at IDEA2019, June 24-27. It is very fitting that the event is being held in Pittsburgh, a city experiencing its own energy renaissance. The conference theme is “Energy for More Resilient Cities,” and you will have the opportunity to hear how Mayor Bill Peduto has prioritized modernizing the city’s infrastructure, focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency utilizing district energy and microgrids. The city is going through a significant transformation that demonstrates what can happen when local, regional and international stakeholders from the public and private sectors come together to solve common problems. 

Conference registration is open, and exhibitor space is nearing capacity, so I urge you to make your travel plans today. You will benefit from the in-depth technical, operations, maintenance and financial presentations from experts in thermal networks, microgrids, combined heat and power, and much more. We will also have two preconference workshops, “District Energy: Think Global, Act Local” and “Microgrids for Enhanced Resiliency.” The conference will conclude with local plant tours. So join experts from around the world for a sharing, learning and networking opportunity that only IDEA can provide. 

I look forward to welcoming you to Pittsburgh and sharing the inspiring story of the city’s energy renaissance!