First of all, I'd like to remind you to make arrangements to attend IDEA's 25th Annual Campus Energy Conference - "Innovations in Clean Energy." We are meeting in Arlington, Va., Feb. 6-9, and it's not too late to sign up. Just click on the Campus Conference banner at www-j43rn.hosts.cx. If you can't join us, please think of another member of your organization who might benefit from this event. All are welcome and are sure to benefit as there will be areas of interest for distribution, business development, service providers, consultants and, of course, university folks. Come enjoy the Super Bowl with friends!
As I write this article on the eve of Thanksgiving (a few days past the deadline, but please don't tell Peter Myers), I realize that while there is a lot to be thankful for, there is still much to be done. In October, Rob Thornton and I paid a very brief but important visit to Berlin where we had the opportunity to help AGFW celebrate its 40th anniversary. AGFW represents over 225 European district energy companies with nearly 20,000 km (12,000 miles) of pipe and 284,000 TJ (269 million MMBtu) in sales. I couldn't help but be proud of district energy as we sat in Berlin's City Hall, along with members of the Bundestag (Germany's national parliament), Vattenfall (the local district energy company) and hundreds of other interested parties celebrating district energy. German politicians are on board with the district energy message. How often do we join with government to celebrate district energy?
Visiting the Vattenfall control center - the nerve center for the city's many kilometers of piping - I could sense the pride its employees take in their system. We exchanged views on combined heat and power and the importance of district energy in our respective nations. Our ongoing discussions with AGFW President Werner Lutsch and his technical staff will continue to explore opportunities to exchange information. We've seen a sample of the AGFW Technical Rules and Standards for District Heating - reams of information that I'm sure would bring back memories of your own experiences in similar situations.
Consider the volumes we would create if we documented our everyday activities. AGFW has been doing so for many years, and this might be an opportunity to collaborate with this strong organization and potentially combine their hot water and steam standards with some of our own, including the district heating handbook and chilled-water best practices. We could begin to create an international set of materials that would help promote the benefits of district energy, as well as ensure proper practices for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of existing and future systems. For example, how many of us have something to learn about the benefits of hot water systems? Look for more on this in the near future.
At home, we continue to work on the "mutual assistance for district energy" concept. We are gathering information and plan to explore a pilot program. In the meantime, we continue to be surprised by district energy's transparency. Working recently with a branch of local government, we learned that a staff member had been a student at a prominent IDEA member university. His unawareness of the concept of buried pipes, both here and at his college, was an indicator of both the best and worst of our industry: We are still the best-kept secret.
In closing, I ask that you put our 103rd Annual Conference and Trade Show - "Cooler, Cleaner Cities" - on your calendar. It will be held in Chicago from June 30 through July 3, and we look forward to seeing you there.