The International District Energy Association Announces Winners of the 3rd Global District Energy Climate Awards

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Nine award-winning systems from cities, communities and campuses were recognized for outstanding achievements in energy efficiency, resource optimization and environmental sustainability.

Representing Cornell's winning submission (l-r): Jim Adams, Cornell; Peter Veldhuizen, CHA Consulting; KyuJung Whang, Cornell; Robert Bland, Cornell; David Frostclapp, Cornell; Lanny Joyce, Cornell.

Cities, communities and campuses around the world are investing in district energy and combined heat & power systems to curb greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen their local economies and increase the resiliency of their energy infrastructure.

Earlier this week, the International District Energy Association (IDEA) hosted the 3rd Global District Energy Climate Awards and Summit in New York City in conjunction with Euroheat & Power and the International Energy Agency Technology Network (IEA). The IEA Technology Network recognized nine award winning systems from cities, communities and campuses for outstanding achievements in energy efficiency, resource optimization and environmental sustainability.

As part of Climate Week NYC, the Summit gathered industry leaders from across North America, Europe and the Middle East to discuss new innovations in district energy infrastructure. District energy systems deliver economic and environmental benefits by optimizing local energy resources, improving trade balances, reducing emissions and strengthening community resilience through more robust and reliable local power generation and distribution of cleaner thermal energy.

“Cities, communities and campuses around the world are investing in district energy and combined heat & power systems to curb greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen their local economies and increase the resiliency of their energy infrastructure,” says Robert Thornton, President & CEO of the International District Energy Association. “The 2013 IEA Award of Excellence winners represent a range of technologies in settings large and small, from very cold northern climates in Nordic countries to arid desert cities in the Middle East. District energy systems deliver tremendous economic benefits and significant environmental gains at the same time.”

District heating and cooling infrastructure enables significant carbon footprint reductions by allowing cities to harvest alternative energy sources and surplus heat that would otherwise be wasted. Economies of scale enable investments in clean energy technologies like lake-source cooling, waste energy recovery, and large scale solar thermal with seasonal pit storage.

An international panel of experts chaired by the IEA Technology Network chose nine submittals to receive “Awards of Excellence” and two submittals for Special Awards for “Innovation” and “Integration of Renewable Energy.” However, no description does justice to the amount of work and quality of excellence these systems have demonstrated, and thus you can view their full submittals here.

  • Sunstore4 in Marstal, Denmark is 100% renewable district heating system for a community, integrating several technologies – large scale solar thermal, biomass combined heat and power, heat pump and innovative seasonal pit storage, proving the economics for others to replicate.
  • Aberdeen Heat & Power in Aberdeen, Scotland is a not-for-profit company that developed and operates a municipally-owned district heating and CHP system. Their system was instrumental in reducing local fuel poverty, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and creating opportunities for further innovations in recovering energy from landfill for power, heating and transportation.
  • Qatar Cool in Doha, Qatar developed the world’s single largest district cooling plant to supply more efficient chilled water for air conditioning to the Pearl Qatar, a 41 million square foot man-made island housing 45,000 residents in 100 towers, 15,000 apartments and 1,550 villas.
  • Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas recently added 50 megawatts of cogeneration to provide highly reliable and efficient cooling, heating and power for 60,000 residents in 19 million square feet of space on the University Campus, while cutting energy use by 40% per square foot and saving over $140 million since 2002.
  • Cornell University in Ithaca, New York added 36 megawatts of combined heat and power (CHP) in 2010 to accompany their innovative lake-source cooling system, bringing their overall system efficiency to 78% by 2012 and eliminating the use of coal on campus, which cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 11,000 cars from the road.
  • Helsingin Energia in Helsinki, Finland provides district heating, district cooling and electricity to over 90% of the buildings in downtown Helsinki, representing 800,000 citizens. The innovative distributed district energy system integrates cold sea water for district cooling, waste energy recovery, combined heat and power, solar energy, thermal storage and operates at an overall efficiency of 90%, recovering useful heat from data centers and customer buildings. The system energy production continues to grow in size by 15-20 MW per year yet carbon dioxide emissions are dropping due to integration of heat recovery and advanced controls and monitoring.
  • Falu Energi & Vatten in Falun, Sweden is a community-owned district energy system using 99% renewable bio-fuels to provide power, heating and cooling to the community, simultaneously producing wood pellets while cutting CO2 emissions by 145,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to taking 47,000 cars off the road. In summer months when electricity demands are high and heating demand is low, waste heat from CHP is used to dry surplus sawdust from local mills to produce and store wood pellets for use in winter.
  • Twence in Hengelo, The Netherlands is a waste-to-energy facility that invested in the expansion of a major steam supply pipeline to a nearby salt (brine) production factory that significantly reduced the factory operating costs, fuel volatility, greenhouse gas emissions and essentially preserved the factory and all of its local jobs. In addition, Twence is also partnering with a nearby community to provide heat for district heating that will reduce annual natural gas imports by 120 million cubic meters, improving energy trade balance, preserving jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 220,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to removing 45,000 cars from the road.
  • District Energy St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota began operations in 1983 by converting the downtown steam system to district hot water service; in 1993 adding district cooling service and thermal storage; in 2003 adding biomass combined heat & power to produce electricity, heat and cooling from residual wood waste and cutting coal use by 250,000 tons per year. In 2012, they integrated the second largest solar thermal array in the USA (1.2 MW) and today provide district heating to over 90% of the buildings downtown and district cooling to over 60%, essentially heating three times the space as in 1983 with half the CO2 emissions.

This year, Special Recognition Awards for Innovation and for Integration of Renewable Energy were presented to:

  • Fortum in Joensuu, Finland was cited for their innovative trigeneration system that produces heat, power and bio-fuels from local wood waste, creating an additional revenue stream for the local district heating company. Bio-oil from residual wood reduces fossil fuel use, cuts CO2 emissions and fuel dependency and can be sold for transportation fuel.
  • Princess Nora University for Women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was cited for building and integrating thermal storage with the largest solar district hot water system in the world, to be used for heating and domestic hot water at the new university campus serving 40,000 female students, projected to save 52 million liters of oil over the next 25 years.

For additional details, photographs and case study information, please visit

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
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