I Am District Energy

Welcome to “I AM District Energy,” our latest initiative designed to introduce you to the people behind the systems and the impact they have on our industry and our planet.  

And we want to hear from you too! Share this blog on social media and tell us your story and of your experience working in district energy, with the hashtag #IAMDistrictEnergy. 

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IDEA is holding its 115th annual conference in Orlando, Florida in June. The conference runs for four days starting Monday, June 17th and goes through Thursday, June 20th. The conference will be held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld hotel and resort.
District Energy for Sustainable Cities
This year, the conference is organized under the theme “District Energy for Sustainable Cities,” a timely topic that harkens back to district energy’s history as one of the first environmental strategies for cleaner air in cities and its key role in the energy transition of cities today.
“The IDEA Annual Conference is an opportunity for district energy leaders from around the world to come together, share best practices, learn from each other and discuss the future of the industry,” said Rob Thornton, President & CEO, IDEA. “District energy’s history has been closely tied to the rise of cities and economic growth. Now, amid the push for decarbonization, district energy systems are an important part of the strategy to help cities meet net-zero goals through a range of technologies to solve unique local energy sustainability challenges.” IDEA members from locations around the world - from Mongolia to Manhattan, Paris to St. Paul, and Dubai to Denver, are leveraging district energy systems to cut carbon emissions at city-scale, while also maintaining a reliable, resilient and efficient supply of heating, cooling and power.”
Pre-conference Workshops
Prior to the main conference, IDEA will offer one our most comprehensive pre-conference workshops yet
 As cities implement energy efficiency and carbon-accounting standards, district energy providers are actively investing, innovating, and integrating technologies to accelerate decarbonization. District Energy for Sustainable Cities, taking place Monday June 17, will explore a range of energy solutions, discuss technologies and timings while enabling critical conversations between panelists and participants. 
Topics at the workshop will include electrification, industrial heat pumps, thermal energy networks, sector-coupling, geoexchange, and carbon accounting. This workshop (and the entire IDEA conference & trade show) will provide timely, real-world expertise on multiple technologies with direct access to experienced industry partners. We encourage electric and gas utilities, policy makers and regulators with responsibility for oversight or launching a thermal energy network (TEN), to join us to learn from real-world, ‘been there, done that’ experts.
Former White House Official to Deliver Keynote Address
The annual conference, which first opened in 1909, generally attracts attendees from more than 400 cities and nearly 30 countries, and featured speakers at IDEA2024 include Brian Deese, the former director of the White House National Economic Council. Deese will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday, June 18th. He was a principal architect of President Joe Biden’s agenda, including the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In his address, Deese will share his insights on the growing opportunities for district energy as a key driver of the clean energy transition. 
Opening Plenary Panels to Feature Experts and Executives from Around the World
Also on Tuesday, June 18th, attendees will hear from experts from across the district energy industry who are shaping the future of sustainable cities in the conference’s plenary panel, including IDEA Board Chair and Enwave Energy Corporation CEO Carlyle Coutinho. Members of this panel include Earl Collins, CEO, Cordia; Carlyle Coutinho, IDEA Board Chair and CEO, Enwave Energy Corporation; Luke Gaalswyk, CEO, Ever-Green Energy; Kevin Hagerty, President & Deputy CEO, Vicinity Energy; Christina Ho, Vice President, Strategic Planning, Consolidated Edison of NY, Inc.; Eric Miller, CEO, CenTrio and Lisa Sparrow, CEO, Corix. These executives are leading district energy systems in over 60 cities and campuses across North America and will share their vast experience in, and knowledge of, investment and technology strategies, emerging policy drivers and how they are innovating to meet increasing customer demand. 
“In order to make cities more sustainable, as an industry we need to think about energy holistically, taking both thermal and electrical energy into account” said Coutinho. “District energy is a vehicle that enables cities to build out energy solutions in the most sustainable and responsible way, while also employing bigger and better solutions at a community scale.”
A second plenary panel will feature experts from around the globe, including the Middle East, Latin America and the European Union. In Germany, for instance, cities with a population of over 20,000 are required to evaluate district energy options to reduce emissions from heating and cooling of buildings.  In the European Union, the new Energy Directive calls for EU member states to also embrace district energy for decarbonization. In the Middle East, especially in high growth cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, district cooling has become the standard to cut electricity demand, conserve water and decrease emissions. And across Latin America, district energy deployment will foster economic growth coupled with environmental objectives.
Technical Program & Technical Tours
The conference technical program, which includes tracks on large heat pumps and energy recovery technologies, smarter cities and resilient energy infrastructure, district cooling and thermal energy storage, maximizing resiliency with microgrids, water conservation and optimization strategies and utilizing wastewater, will be held over two days – Tuesday, June 18th and Wednesday, June 19th.
The conference wraps up on Thursday, June 20th with technical tours of two plants operated by The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) – the Downtown North Plant, which is one of three plants that feeds the downtown Orland chilled water loop, and the Universal Plant, which feeds Universal Studios Orlando’s newest park with 20,000 tons capacity. 
See you in Orlando!
There is much more to explore, and more opportunities to learn and connect at IDEA2024, as district energy professionals from around the world gather to share insight and best practices in Orlando. Go to the IDEA2024 page on the IDEA site for all the latest details, including information on how to register. We hope to see you in Orlando!

Previous Posts

  • IDEA CampusEnergy2024, held in San Francisco this past February, shed light on the innovative solutions being paired with district energy to advance decarbonization efforts. These solutions also often integrate renewable energy technologies both on college and university campuses and in commercial settings. However, the need for workforce development and growth of the labor force in the energy industry may be one of the biggest obstacles to the continued growth and expansion of these solutions. read more

  • In 2022 and 2023, the conversation in the energy industry was dominated by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and its impact. The landmark law committed more than $400 billion to clean energy solutions and spurred private investment and activity across the sector. 2024 is already shaping up to be another busy year in the energy sector, and what follows are the policies that IDEA’s Legislative Director and Principal at FVB Energy, Mark Spurr, says district energy professionals need to watch throughout read more

  • Energy is the lifeblood that powers our societies and propels us forward. To ensure sustainable growth, we must recognize innovative solutions that not only drive economic progress but also prioritize minimal environmental impact. Year in and year out, IDEA members lead the way in technology, engineering and operational innovation. These innovations leverage the advantages of district energy to maximize energy efficiency, reduce energy and water consumption and enhance resilience. To recognize read more

  • Blog Entry

    Join more than 1,000 district energy colleagues in San Francisco from February 20 th -23 rd for this year’s Campus Energy conference Colleges and universities have long been engines of innovation, scientific breakthroughs, and thought-provoking research. However, those innovations are not just being created in the classrooms and laboratories, they are also happening behind the scenes – in the energy systems powering, heating and cooling the buildings on those campuses. The people behind read more

  • As the world continues to warm, sustainable cooling is one of the world’s top energy concerns, and a central theme of the COP28 meeting in Dubai. The COP28 Presidency is spearheading the Global Cooling Pledge at the annual international climate event. The pledge is voluntary, and its aim is to “raise ambition and international cooperation through collective targets on improving efficiency and climate friendly approaches, while increasing access to sustainable cooling for the most vulnerable.” read more

  • If you’ve ever watched an old movie set in New York City and seen steam rising from the street at night or out of the subway system while a private detective slinks through the streets trying to solve the crime, or you’ve been a tourist in the city that never sleeps and walked by one of those orange and white tubes with steam billowing out the top, then you are familiar with New York’s iconic district steam system, even if you may not have realized it. The district energy system in New York read more

  • Nowhere has the heat felt more immediate than in cities, creating an urgent need for sustainable cooling solutions. In Colombia, 75% of the country’s population lives in urban centers, and more than 70% of those cities are situated in warm climates where there is also a high demand for air conditioning. In Colombia, Cartagena is leading the way in developing cooling districts, with facilities in operation that serve the health care, commercial and residential sectors. But, as the planet read more