BOSTON — At IDEA2015: Inspiring the Next Generation, hosted by the International District Energy Association (IDEA), energy experts from around the world gathered to explore the latest innovations and trends in district heating and cooling, combined heat and power (CHP), and microgrids for cities, communities, and campuses. Marking its 106th annual conference, this year’s event featured more than 100 speakers and over 950 attendees — representing 21 countries, 39 U.S. states, and five Canadian provinces.

“After decades of business-as-usual, the utility and energy industries are quickly transforming the way we generate, distribute, and value energy, particularly as it relates to more sustainable and resilient cities and communities,” said Rob Thornton, president and CEO of IDEA. “Bringing together the public and private sectors at our 106th annual conference will help drive more investment and dedication to build a more reliable and sustainable energy system. In addition, it is noteworthy that we held this year’s conference in Boston, which is leading the way in urban sustainability as evidenced by the recognition of the city by the UN’s Environment Program and why IDEA honored Veolia’s Boston-Cambridge network with our 2015 System of the Year award.”

This year’s conference marked the North American launch of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global District Energy in Cities Initiative and its flagship publication District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy. UNEP called for accelerated global deployment of modern district energy in cities to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthen local economies. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership, USDN Network, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan all recognize district energy/CHP as strategic energy infrastructure. During the conference, the city of Boston signed on as a Champion City to the initiative and was joined by industrial associations and private partners such as Johnson Controls.

“After Warsaw and Belgrade, UNEP welcomes the city of Boston’s commitment to join the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative,” said Mark Radka, chief the UNEP Energy, Climate and Technology Branch at UNEP. “Cities are starting to realize that modern district energy can be a key element of their climate change response. A transition to modern district energy could enable cities and countries to improve their energy efficiency for heating and cooling while pursuing 100 percent renewable energy or carbon neutral targets. We must use the momentum gained at the regional launch of the Global District Energy in Cities initiative in Boston to boost ambition ahead of the Paris Climate Conference (COP21).”

IDEA2015 brought together city planners and sustainability directors to discuss how they are seeking solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, optimize local resources, enhance economic resiliency, and strengthen critical energy infrastructure. In addition, there was significant discussion about emerging business opportunities as traditional utilities continue a paradigm shift that will drive new business models with more distributed generation assets that better integrate thermal energy, storage, renewables, and microgrids. This year, the IDEA System of the Year Award was presented to Veolia’s Boston-Cambridge network in recognition of its investment in CHP at the Kendall Station facility, which will provide significant economic and environmental benefits to the region.

“We are honored to have our Boston-Cambridge network recognized by IDEA, which reflects the significant investment we have made into the system including over $100 million as part of the ‘Green Steam’ project that we completed last year,” said Vincent Martin, senior vice president Northeast Region of Veolia's North American Municipal and Commercial Business Lines. “Veolia is excited to take part in IDEA2015 during a time when more and more cities and customers across the United States and the world are embracing the economic and environmental benefits of connecting to district energy systems.”

For more information, visit

Publication date: 7/13/2015

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!