What to Expect from IDEA2020


“I went to the IDEA conference this year and it was the best conference I've ever been to. The collection of people who participated represent the best-in-class for large scale engineering and energy-related topics. The dedication to developing next generation energy infrastructure is contagious and invigorating.” – Matt Pfannenstiel P.E., Energy Manager, Smith College

Collaboration. Conversation. Community.

For 111 years, these attributes have made IDEA conferences a unique forum for the district energy community, bringing together industry leaders from all over the world to learn from one another and share their experiences.

IDEA2020 in Washington, D.C. will be no exception.

IDEA2020 will bring together stakeholders in district energy, CHP, and microgrid industries. They come from the public and private sector, working in cities, communities, campuses, hospitals, military bases and airports.

Like you, they are focused on building a better tomorrow today. Come hear their stories - and contribute your own.

The urgency to build more resilient cities has never been greater. Working together and learning from one another has never been more critical. At IDEA2020, you will gain new insights, discover new technologies, and most important, share your expertise with one another in a friendly, collegial atmosphere.


Washington DC: The New Vision for District Energy

Facing more extreme weather and an aging grid, cities, campuses, communities, and military bases are seeking more reliable, efficient and resilient energy infrastructure to support local economies, achieve sustainability objectives and enhance quality of life. District Energy, CHP and Microgrids are proven technologies that are becoming increasingly valuable in the shift to a lower carbon, distributed energy paradigm.

The theme of the 111th IDEA Annual Conference, “New Vision for District Energy” will explore emerging technologies, encourage collaborative discussion and enable peer exchange to accelerate continued investment in district energy. The 2020 conference will bring together industry leaders, energy and environmental experts and business partners and from around the globe.


“Once again, IDEA has masterfully produced a conference that exposes our members to new ideas, educates and helps attendees to be more effective in their respective roles at our member schools. It is because of the efforts of IDEA that we keep coming back for more!” – David Bowley, Utility Systems Manager, University of New Hampshire

Who Will I Meet?

If this is your first or 40th IDEA conference, the connections you make at IDEA2020 will be memorable and lasting. In our diverse educational sessions, bustling exhibit hall, and relaxing post-program events, you will meet with and learn from CEOs, VPs, and other senior management professionals, project engineers, managing directors, consultants, sales managers, and many more.

Simply put, if you’re new to district energy or IDEA conferences, you will be amazed by how much you will learn. If you’re a veteran of the industry, you are guaranteed to learn something new.

Click the link for a partial list of previous attending organizations, exhibitors and partners.

Past Participating Organizations


Explore the Latest Innovations in the Exhibit Hall

Considering the high level of expertise and innovation on display, we like to think of the exhibit hall at IDEA2020 as an extension of our educational program. Where else can you get hands on access to the latest technologies and cultivate strong partnerships that will ensure your next project is a successful one?

This year’s exhibit hall features the highest caliber manufacturers, suppliers, and service contractors. If you’re looking for companies with success and an impeccable reputation for designing, constructing, and installing systems across North America and around the world, then IDEA2020 is where you’ll want to be.

Interested in exhibiting at IDEA2020? Contact Tanya Kozel soon as space is more limited than we're used to and is already 70% sold out. 

Exhibit Info


Expert Presenters with Real World Experience

At IDEA2020, you will hear from more than 100 experts from all facets of the industry, delivering insight and analysis you can’t find anywhere else. In panels, workshops, presentations, and forums, you’ll hear from presenters who have “been there, done that”, sharing practical, real world experience in building systems, spearheading innovation, and changing the status quo. Be ready to tap into a bottomless reservoir of expertise and leave with a better understanding of what to do, how to do it - and even what not to do.

Interested in presenting at IDEA2020? Submit an abstract before the November 8, 2019 deadline for your chance to participate in this unmatched program. 

Submit an Abstract


Honoring Industry Activators

At IDEA2020, it’s a long-standing tradition to honor those individuals and organizations, systems, cities, and municipalities who are exceeding expectations. Join us in recognizing the people, the systems and the new projects that are modernizing communities and making a difference while they're doing it.

Annual IDEA Awards to be presented in 2020:
IDEA System of the Year Award
Person of the Year (Norman R. Taylor) Award
District Energy Space Awards
Innovation Award
John Gray Scholarship Award

IDEA Awards

International Perspectives

The challenges you face are often shared with colleagues from all over the world. IDEA2020 is an extraordinary opportunity to hear the unique perspectives of attendees, exhibitors, panelists, and presenters from dozens of countries. Discover the possibilities of low-carbon, sustainable systems operating in Europe, learn more about the large district cooling networks in the Middle East, and hear success stories of the highly efficient systems serving campuses and communities across North America. You might find out that what works ‘over there’ might just work for you ‘over here’.

See where past attendees came from!



“I’ve been attending many IDEA conferences since I presented at the CampusEnergy conference in Reno back in 2010, and have found them to be the best place for learning about the latest developments in district energy from fellow engineers and campus operations staff.” – Joshua Morejohn, Energy Manager, University of California, Davis