In response to the complex challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDEA has convened a Working Group to help our members and other affected individuals get essential resources and information you need to help you navigate this unprecedented event.  We are all learning that you just can't be prepared enough for an event like this and it is best if we all work together to come up with solutions. 

Check back on this web page often for the latest information. 

Our Latest COVID-19 Webinar

COVID-19 and the Campus Utility System
Recorded October 6, 2020 from 12:00-1:00PM (EDT)

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COVID-19 is at the front of everyone’s mind and is driving changes in everyone’s operations. We are all faced with the dilemma of how to best serve our facilities and campuses in this current environment. Campuses have continued to react and address current challenges and ongoing uncertainties including changes to facility operations. This results in changing loads and load profiles from historical patterns on campus, which possibly translates to different generation and distribution needs for the various utilities. Continuing to reliably and efficiently operate the central and distributed utility systems to meet those needs creates potential challenges that are resulting in significant impacts for many campuses.

The webinar is focused on lessons learned and sharing the knowledge gained to date from leading institutions including Auburn University, New York Presbyterian, University of Denver, and University of Missouri, from both the design, management, and operations of campus utility systems. The presenters’ insights will be beneficial both for current operations as well as operations this winter and spring and the associated challenges that are expected to affect budgets, operations, and utility costs.

COVID-19: Latest News

Tracking Covid at U.S. Colleges and Universities

Source: New York Times - Thousands of new coronavirus cases continue to emerge on college campuses. A New York Times survey of more than 1,700 American colleges and universities — including every four-year public institution and every private college that competes in N.C.A.A. sports — has revealed more than 178,000 cases and at least 70 deaths since the pandemic began.

The New York Times is tracking coronavirus cases on campuses through a rolling survey. Their web page will be updated periodically.

Get Latest Update

COVID-19 Challenge: Turning HVAC, Other Building Systems Back On

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, many campuses across the nation were forced to quickly shut down and become what is known as a “quiet campus.”

Managing these unpopulated buildings while bracing for the reopening into a new normal is forcing building managers to reevaluate the approaches and technologies used to manage the complex mechanical and electrical systems across each campus.

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Using Thermal Imaging to Screen for Illness

Fever screening at facilities has turned into an important method to assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Yet, many business might not be using the best methods to do so. The article below highlights comprehensive reasoning for doing it right and doing it now through Thermal Infrared Imaging as buildings and campuses begin to re-open.

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Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue Offers Full Suite of COVID-19 Solutions

Johnson Controls, a technology company, has launched OpenBlue, a new digital platform that powers an innovative suite of solutions with more than 20 tailored services across HVAC, fire protection and security.

The platform infuses the OpenBlue suite of solutions and services with award-winning AI-powered service solutions, combining data from both inside and outside of buildings, says the company.

“The launch of OpenBlue is a radical approach to dynamic spaces,” said Phil Clement, vice president and chief marketing officer, Johnson Controls. “The brand identity was created with a number of factors in mind: Open refers to an optimistic future and the platform’s open architecture to enable products to work with various solutions. The color blue is core to Johnson Controls branding for the past 135 years and gives a nod to our strong heritage in the buildings space.”

Using OpenBlue, customers are said to be able to:

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IDEA Working Group Webinars

To address the growing concerns and added responsibilities and considerations of everyone working in district energy during this crisis, IDEA has launched a series of bi-weekly webinars to facilitate peer exchange and open communication among industry operations professionals.
The purpose of these calls are peer exchange open communication among industry operations professionals and to identify resources and best practices that are valuable to the entire community. You can listen to the webinars and their supporting resource materials below.

If you would like to contribute to the IDEA Working Group, please email Your expertise is welcome!

Our Latest Working Group Webinar

COVID-19 Working Group Call: Back to School
Recorded: Thursday, August 20, 1:30-2:30 EST

As August begins against a backdrop of surging COVID-19 cases across the country, many campuses are adjusting to incorporate virtual and physical plans for re-opening.  To help our IDEA community, we would like to bring the group back together for an update on strategies planned on your campus to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff, including new procedures you have adopted. We will discuss planning, risk assessment and collective thoughts on preparing for the winter heating season.

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Creating Healthier/Safer Buildings - Webinar with IDEA Sustaining Sponsor Johnson Controls

Thursday, June 18, 2020 

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Navigating the New Normal - A Conversation

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 

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Update on Downtown Systems

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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Caring for Utility Water Systems

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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Emergency Preparedness Plan Discussion

Monday, March 23, 2020
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IDEA Connect

IDEA Connect is our online chatroom where you can pose a question about the challenges you're facing in dealing with COVID-19 in your workplace, or join in an existing conversation to share expertise with others. And, if you are in need of urgent assistance (perhaps looking for a critical part you can't get for your system), please post  We encourage you to connect with the IDEA community today through IDEA Connect.

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IDEA Working Group Survey

In the interest of supporting IDEA members and the district energy community during the COVID-19 pandemic, we developed and sent out the IDEA COVID-19 Emergency Operations Survey to help track operations, best practices and safety strategies during these unprecedented times.  We are pleased to share the results with you below.

View Survey Results

Federal, State, and Local Directives

As Federal, State and Local officials continue to issue public health directives at a rapid pace, IDEA will keep track of those that could affect your workplace. Please click the links below for more information, and forward any updates specific to your community to

The organization Multi-State has published a Policy Tracker section of their website that highlights state and local activity, stay-at-home orders, and state legislation in response to COVID-19. It is quite extensive and recommended as a quick resource for the latest information.

COVID-19 Policy Tracker

District Energy - Vital to Economic Recovery

IDEA President & CEO Rob Thornton,  Tonja Leach, Executive Director, Quest and Carlyle Coutinho, President & COO, Enwave co-signed a letter encouraging the Canadian Federal Government to consider investments in district energy as a integral part of future stimulus packages. You can read a copy of the letter below.

Read - District Energy Considerations in COVID-19 Recovery

District Energy Workers - An Essential Workforce

IDEA submitted a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recommending that district energy systems be added to the listing of essential infrastructure workforce.  Download a copy of the letter for your own use locally.

IDEA Letter to DHC CISA re District Energy as Essential Infrastructure Workforce

Update: May 19, 2020

On May 19, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released version 3.1 of its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. Version 3.1 provides clarity around many individual worker categories, including expanded language for those workers supporting at-risk communities and the essential nature of health facility workers in communities across the country. This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive
or standard. 

Please note the second item in the "Energy" section on page 9 of the PDF of the guide, shown below. 

Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response

Members Helping Members

IDEA is honored to serve to nearly 2500 members worldwide, many of whom are willing to share resources and ideas on behalf of the industry. Below are  resources we have received from IDEA members that might help you as you look to implement policies and procedures in your workplace.

If you have resources you would like to share, please send to 


Nalco shares best practices to mitigate the risk of waterborne pathogens like Legionella as buildings begin to re-open.
Nalco on Water Safety


Engie has shared their "Fight COVID-19" plan to help their communities in a number of ways. We are happy to share it below.

Engie: Fight COVID-19 Plans
Engie: Integrated Report

Ever-Green Energy - Critical Infrastructure Worker Transit Worker

As more and more states institute emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, it may become important for you to petition local, state and federal government to recognize your work as 'mission critical' and your employees as 'essential'.

In response, Ever-Green Energy created an Infrastructure Transit letter for employees as proof to local authorities that their work is essential. Read it below.

Essential Employee Transit Document

Enwave - Information Sharing through Sharepoint

In an effort to simplify communications with staff during an ever-evolving crisis, Enwave has created a Sharepoint file with relevant updates in areas like Prevention, Symptoms and Resources. By placing these resources in an internal Sharepoint file, any updates to information will be pushed to staff in real time. View a screen shot of Enwave's Sharepoint home page below.

View Enwave Sharepoint Document

Enwave has also generously provided three documents designed to help employers and managers mitigate risk in the current climate. You can download the Manager's Tool Kit, along with Employee Travel and Employee Sick Logs by clicking below. 

Managers Tool Kit - COVID-19      Employee Travel Log         Employee Sick Log

University of Delaware - Interview with EAB

EAB spoke to three Facilities leaders whose campuses have already undergone this change: Brent Stringfellow, AVP of Facilities at Lehigh University; a Senior Facilities Officer at a Private University in New York ; and Peter Krawchyk, VP of Facilities, Real Estate, and Auxiliary Services at University of Delaware. Below is an edited transcript of our conversations.

How to prepare for “essential personnel” staffing models: advice from 3 campus Facilities leaders

Austin Energy - Essential Operations Memo

Austin Energy shares a memo sent to essential operations staff about their value - and safety -  during unprecedented times.

Essential Operations Memo

The University of Texas at Austin

UT-Austin has provided some examples of resources they are using to better prepare their operational staff for upcoming challenges.
Authority to Travel - Essential Personnel
Facilities Operational Status Web Page
Campus Operational Status Updates Website

DeNora Water Technologies - Hypochlorite Generator

De Nora Water Technologies has small-scale, compact, portable hypochlorite generators available that generate a chlorine-based bleach solution that will stabilize your bleach supplies, while making your district energy or campus power plant less reliant on commercial bleach solutions that may be in short supply due to the ongoing COVID 19 crisis. De Nora Water Technologies has current system installations throughout campus power plants across the US, eliminating the need to transport and or handle chemicals, while maintaining a very safe and economical method to produce. De Nora also has a similar system indicated for residential and small institutional or commercial use available for IDEA members. For more information, please contact Steve Garcia at 505 977 3630.

Commercial Hypocrhlorite Generator
Residential Hypochlorite Generator
Portable Hypochlorite Generator

Vortex Companies - Hand Sanitizer

The Vortex Companies is manufacturing its own line of hand sanitizer, known as crew CARE™  with the following benefits: 

  • An aqueous, FDA-registered formula in response to the COVID-19 virus.
  • Safe and easy for lathering into hand.
  • Sprayable solution for surface disinfection.

Discounts are available for IDEA members! To order, please or order online at using the code IDEA10, or contact Matt Badiali, VP of Industrial Sales, at 857-203-1998 for bulk order. Lead time is one week to ship. 

crew CARE™ Details

Members Helping Communities

Tufts University

Across the globe, schools and universities have been forced to shut their doors to protect students and teachers and to slow the spread of coronavirus. But could they play a vital role in defeating COVID-19? Tufts University has transformed parts of its campus into a military-style hospital to treat the infected, and students are now using their skills to support the healthcare system. Walter Isaacson of Amanpour and Company speaks with the university’s president, Anthony Monaco, about their efforts. (credit, Amanpour and Company).

Also from Tufts - 

Higher Education’s Role in Fighting the Coronavirus


U.M.C. is giving back to the community by creating portable handwashing stations that can be transported anywhere.

"Wash Station On Wheels"


Help From Other Organizations and Companies


ASHRAE has Issued two statements on relationship between COVID-19 and HVAC in buildings, in response to widening false statements surrounding HVAC systems. ASHRAE officially opposes the advice not to run residential or commercial HVAC systems and asserts that keeping air conditioners on during this time can help control the spread of the virus. The official statements and other resources are included on their website and can be accessed by clicking the link below.

ASHRAE COVID-19 Resources Page
ASHRAE Introduces Updated Reopening Guide for Schools and Universities

(published July 22, 2020)

American Association of Architects

Addressing capacity, safety and risk challenges for our nation’s hospitals during a public health pandemic response
Preparedness Assessment Tool containing information synthesized from non-crisis situations in combination with federal documents issued during the COVID 19 crisis.