Efficient District Energy Systems Reduce Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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International District Energy Association to host Climate Summit for community energy strategies.

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As cities explore opportunities for greater infrastructure resiliency, we are seeing a real shift toward local and distributed generation that creates opportunities for recovering useful heat and optimizing local energy resources.

Around the world, cities and communities are deploying district energy system infrastructure to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and strengthen their local economies. The International Energy Agency will be recognizing many such outstanding examples of urban environmental and economic performance through the Global District Energy Climate Awards at the Summit at the Hudson Theater in New York City on September 23, 2013.

District Energy Systems supply the heating and cooling needs of multiple buildings, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of buildings in a city, community, campus setting or military base. Combining the thermal energy requirements of many millions of square feet of customer building space creates an economy of scale to deploy low carbon solutions like surplus industrial heat recovery or combined heat and power (CHP). District energy systems allow communities to reduce their environmental impact and utilize local energy resources, enabling energy dollars to recirculate with multiplier effect in the local economy.

“As cities explore opportunities for greater infrastructure resiliency, we are seeing a real shift toward local and distributed generation that creates opportunities for recovering useful heat and optimizing local energy resources,” says IDEA President & CEO Rob Thornton.

Examples of systems providing these benefits are the projects below, all of which were submitted for consideration for a 2013 Global District Energy Climate Award. You can find more information about all systems under consideration here.

  • Bromölla is a small town in Sweden that uses surplus heat from the local pulp and paper industry to provide secure, inexpensive and climate friendly heating to half the population.
  • Con Edison Steam is one of the largest district energy systems in the world. In 2012, 64 percent of the heat supplied to buildings on Manhattan’s 102 mile underground piping network was surplus heat from power generation, avoiding 430,000 tons of CO2 emissions through Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
  • Helsinki Energy makes use of harnessing waste heat throughout the City, capturing and re-using low grade heat for space and hot water heating and district cooling for air conditioning while avoiding unnecessary combustion of fossil fuels through customer efficiency optimization.
  • District Energy St. Paul has shifted from coal to local urban wood waste as primary fuel and is integrating solar thermal to provide low carbon heating and cooling to the majority of buildings in the Minnesota state capital, avoiding over 240,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

As part of the Global District Energy Climate Summit in New York City on September 23, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in conjunction with International District Energy Association and Euroheat & Power will present the 2013 Global District Energy Climate Awards. The list of award winners has not been released, but all aforementioned systems were under consideration. All awards will be presented on September 23 at the Gala Awards Dinner.

About International District Energy Association: The International District Energy Association (IDEA) is a nonprofit industry association founded in 1909. Membership includes district energy and CHP system managers, engineers, consultants and equipment suppliers from 25 countries.

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Robert Thornton
International District Energy Association
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