Chair's Update 3rd Quarter 2012

By Joseph Brillhart posted 06-25-2017 16:50

Joseph Brillhart

For those of you who attended IDEA's 103rd Annual Conference in Chicago, I don't have to tell you how great the event was. You lucky folks also witnessed the wonderful weather of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I would like to thank our host, Thermal Chicago, which opened its doors to us all and made the event even greater. For those of you who didn't get to join us in Chicago, mark your calendars so that you can be part of our annual Campus Energy Conference in lovely San Diego Feb. 18-22, 2013.

I'd like to welcome our new board members Edward Conway, Con Edison; Jeff Duncan, Vanderweil Engineers; Jim Lodge, NRG Thermal LLC; Cyrille du Peloux, Veolia Energy North America; and Douglas Wells, Rice University.

I'd also like to thank our outgoing board members Ann McIver, Citizens Thermal; Kurt Liebendorfer, Johnson Controls Inc.; and Tim Merrill, NRG Energy Center Pittsburgh. We will miss you all in the meetings!

My predecessor and good friend Vin Badali did a fantastic job during the past year as chair of our great organization. Vinny is truly one of the finest individuals I've ever met, and it will be my pleasure to continue working with him as he serves his term as outgoing chair. Thank you, Vinny, for your hard work and achievement dur­ing 2011 and 2012.

It is with great pleasure that I wel­come all our new members and especially all the new members from the Canadian

District Energy Association. How exciting for our industry to have such an opportunity for growth!

Like IDEA, district energy continues to grow as well. Since 1990, more than 540 million sq ft of customer building space has been added to our systems in North America. Just as important as industry growth is that more and more people are getting the message about the benefits of district energy. The reality is finally begin­ning to sink in that large centrally located plants can provide heating, cooling and power to many users more efficiently and reliably than individual site-based plants.

The world is starting to get it. This realization did not come easy. A lot of effort was expended in getting to this point. Can we stop now? Is it enough that district energy provides the best value? Delivering value is important, but it's not enough. We need to do more. We need to go beyond the meter to help our custom­ers use the right amount of energy. We not only need to be known for our ability to supply the cleanest, most reliable source of energy, but we also need to be known as the experts who make sure our custom­ers use our energy most efficiently.

It is with that in mind that my theme of the year is "Building on Efficiency, Delivering Value."

I have been very fortunate in my life. I have a lovely wife and three talented daughters. I've worked for a company that for more than 35 years has allowed me to promote energy efficiency. I've also been part of IDEA and met some of the most wonderful and smartest people while attending the conferences. One such person that I ran into just happens to be an engi­neer - a very smart engineer, I might add. The guy is so smart that I am always amazed at what he is thinking. When I first met him, we did the traditional exchange of business cards. Now, I knew his credentials, and I knew a lot of his accomplishments, but on his card where the job title normally

 would appear were the words "Energy Shepherd." I wasn't sure what to think at the time, but after a couple of days of mull­ing that over in my mind, the only conclu­sion I could come up with was that I wished I had thought of it first. Over the years, I still think about that job title and truly believe there are few descriptions that better fit what we all should aspire to be.

We need to be the energy shepherds that take care of our flock. The buildings on our campuses or connected to our util­ities are where our shepherding skills need to come into play. There are so many opportunities to make those buildings more efficient. Statistically, the average nonretrofit building has 25 percent energy savings potential. If we play the role of shepherd and help our flock attain those savings, our customers will be winners. The environment will also be a winner. Moreover, our plants will operate more efficiently, and we will have more oppor­tunities to expand our businesses to reach other customers, without adding capital equipment in our plants. By doing this effectively and consistently, the new mes­sage about district energy will not only be that we deliver great value but also that we apply our expertise to guide our cus­tomers so that they avoid the pitfalls of using excess energy.

We all need to "Build on Efficiency" as well as "Deliver Value." If we don't, our sheep will wander around until they find someone who will take care of them, and that may not be a district energy provider.

Joseph Brillhart
Chair, 2012-13

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