In a district energy system, a central plant or plants produce steam, hot water, or chilled water, which is then pumped through a network of insulated pipes to provide space heating, cooling, and/or hot water for nearby connected customer buildings. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) contracted this report from ICF L.L.C. to inform modeling and analysis of domestic district energy systems.
District energy allows customers to save space and expenses by avoiding individual installation, operation, and maintenance of in-building heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment. Using economies of scale, district energy systems often distribute heat generated by combined heat and power (CHP) systems to use thermal energy that is produced more efficiently. District energy systems are more commonly found in commercial clusters of buildings such as colleges, hospitals, downtowns, healthcare, and government campuses.
ICF worked with the International District Energy Association’s (IDEA) database of 660 existing district energy systems operating in the United States. In 2012, an estimated 5.5 billion square feet of heating floorspace and 1.9 billion square feet of cooling floorspace were serviced by district energy.
Report by ICF L.L.C. and the International District Energy Association prepared for the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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