IDEA Innovation Award

Submit for The Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award

Showcasing technology, engineering and operational innovation within the district energy industry.

Each year, the The Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award is presented to projects, collaborations, or programs that helped reduce energy usage, enhanced efficiency or strengthened reliability and resilience. 

These projects are replicable and have potential for widespread application while producing stakeholder benefits and demonstrating the value proposition of district energy. 

Innovation in District Energy

The Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award helps our industry demonstrate how district energy systems deliver benefits to various constituencies including customers, communities, stakeholders, institutions, the environment and society in general.

This prestigious award enables our members to share emerging best practices and collaborative applications. It is intended to create awareness of smaller projects and applications, not of the scale of IDEA System of the Year — processes that can be replicated and more widely used by others.

The Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award showcases real-world examples of technology, engineering and operational innovation within the district energy industry. Presented annually at IDEA's Annual Conference & Trade Show, the award is evaluated in four main categories:

  • Ingenuity: the technology has to be a new technical, business, or operating practice that shows ingenuity.
  • Measured Success: the technology must be working for a sustained period of time with demonstrated efficiency success that can be measured.
  • Replicable: the innovation must be replicable, meaning that this idea can be easily applied elsewhere.
  • Economic & Environmental: the innovation must demonstrate economic and environmental benefits.

The deadline to submit is Friday, April 19, 2024.

About the Joseph M. Brillhart Innovation Award

Beginning in 2024, as unanimously decided by the IDEA Board, the IDEA Innovation Award has been renamed The Joseph M. Brillhart IDEA Innovation Award.
Joe served on the IDEA Board for multiple terms and on the Executive Committee and as IDEA Chair in 2012-2013. It was Joe’s singular idea to create the IDEA Innovation Award during his term as IDEA Chair in 2012-13. He felt that the annual IDEA System of the Year Award recognized excellence in our industry at the system level, but there was a need to bring greater visibility to the innovation and partnering that happens among IDEA members and business partners at a more granular level.
Under Joe’s stewardship, we launched the Annual IDEA Innovation Award more than a decade ago. It has grown in participation and prestige ever since. As a memorial to Joe Brillhart, it is fitting and appropriate that going forward, we will continue to recognize his collegial and curious spirit by naming this prestigious award after Joe.

Paul Holt (left) accepts the 2016 Innovation Award from Joe Brillhart of JCI (right).

CenTrio Wins the 2023 IDEA Innovation Award

The 2023 IDEA Innovation Award was presented at IDEA2023 at the Chicago Hilton on June 6 to CenTrio, for their submission, National Western Center – P3 Project.

Read Official Awards Announcement Blog Post
View the 2023 IDEA Innovation Award Winner - CenTrio

Honorable Mention recognition was also given to Enwave Energy Corporation and University of Massachusetts Amherst for their unique submissions. 

2023 IDEA Innovation Award Honorable Mention-UMass
2023 IDEA Innovation Honorable Mention-Enwave

IDEA Innovation Award Committee Chair Bob Smith and IDEA
President & CEO, Rob Thornton present CenTrio with the 2023 IDEA
Innovation Award.

Past Recipients