Chair's Update 4th Quarter 2011

By Vincent Badali posted 06-25-2017 16:44

Vincent Badali

As I write this column, the unofficial summer season is winding down and the financial markets have just completed the most volatile week in their history. By the time you read this, that record may have already been eclipsed, adding to the learning experiences that financial and economic experts have been accumulating since the downturn of 2008. Hopefully, these events will become pavers on the path to more stable economic times.

In the district energy community, unusual experiences can be equally valuable. I would venture to say that if district energy folks looked back to 2008 we could each come up with a past event that helped shape our current organizations in some way. In fact, at times it seems we only have to look back a week or two. We probably have shared these lessons with our respective workforces, but are we willing to take the next step and share them with fellow IDEA members? As the sum­mer comes to a close and the 'shoulder' season offers a bit of a breather, why not take some time to look back on a recent significant event and share it with your district energy colleagues?

Of greatest value, of course, are safety-related experiences. Whether we have suffered a workplace injury or were more fortunate and experienced a near miss, determining the root cause, contributing factors and the changes needed to prevent a recurrence should be standard procedure. Did equipment contribute to the incident? How could we modify a design to remove a hazard? Was there a procedural violation or would a simple procedural revision help to minimize the potential for a recurrence? Were our employees adequately trained? Very often when something goes awry and we begin to probe, most - if not all - of these questions will help us enhance operations.

Another area to consider for a potential topic would be your recent accomplishments. If you're like most of us, you are proud of the safety, reliability and durability of a system that continues to attract and retain customers. Have you done some unusual work to ensure that those assets continue to be around for the long haul? Have you helped solve an unusual customer problem or found an unusual use for our products and services?

As we all know, building on the above benefits of district energy by improving system efficiency, whether through reinsulation, trap maintenance programs, economic dispatch of production facilities or other measures, will help keep fuel costs and customer bills in check. What technical improvement or business decisions have you made to improve your efficiency? Of course, the ultimate modernization would be the addition or expansion of combined heat and power (CHP) capabilities. Is there a story to tell about the CHP in your portfolio or perhaps your future?

How you get your message out there is entirely up to you. Presenting at an upcoming IDEA Conference - such as the 25th Annual Campus Energy Conference in Washington in February or the 103rd Annual Conference in Chicago in June - would be ideal. Look for those calls for papers. You could also choose to post your work on the IDEA Web site as a case study. When was the last time you browsed through the Web site? Take a look. Maybe you could help energize one of our many online forums at and get an exchange going among members with a similar challenge. If you happen to be a new member, this would be a great way to meet some IDEA members with similar sys­tems and issues. However you do it, we welcome your input and willingness to share your story. Of course, keep in mind that you are bound to find value in the postings by your fellow members. Many times a posting is just the spark to get an exchange going. Have a safe autumn and I hope to hear from you soon.


Vincent Badali
Chair, 2011-12

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