Global District Energy Climate Award

University of Texas Austin Wins IEA Global District Energy Climate Award at the District Energy Climate Summit, Copenhagen, Denmark

photo of Juan Ontiveros accepting the award

On November 3, 2009, The University of Texas Austin was one of six recipients of the Global District Energy Climate Award presented by the International Energy Agency at an international meeting jointly convened by Danske Fjernvarme (the Danish District Heating Association), the Danish Board of District Heating, Euroheat & Power, and the International District Energy Association. The event was attended by delegates from 27 countries.

The Award was presented by Lena Sommestad, former Environment Minister of Sweden, to Juan Ontiveros, Executive Director of Utilities at UT Austin and current Chair of IDEA, in recognition of the extraordinary energy efficiency and carbon emission reductions achieved by the district energy/CHP system operated on the flagship campus of The University of Texas at Austin. Over the past ten years, UT Austin has implemented over $160 million in energy efficiency upgrades that have been funded out of savings from operating efficiency improvements. While the University has added over 8 million square feet of new building space on campus in the past decade, the increase in energy efficiency and environmental emission reductions of the campus district energy/CHP system have resulted in the campus reducing greenhouse gas emissions down to 1977 levels.

photo of winners

This was a highly competitive award setting with global competition from 27 different participants. Other award winners include:

Jiamusi Municipality in Heilongjiang, China, in combination with a public/private partnership with Dalkia, has developed a highly efficient district heating network cutting greenhouse gas emissions while shutting down 76 individual coal plants in  this municipality of 2.5 million citizens. 

The municipal district energy system in Boras, Sweden maximizes fuel flexibility and efficiency as it moves toward a “fossil free community,” utilizing district energy infrastructure as the cornerstone of sustainability.

The city of Dunkirk, France has achieved economic revival by recovering the industrial waste heat from its lifeblood steel mills for over 90% of the heating needs of the residents.

In Krakow, Poland, reinvestment in the district heating network has enabled the community to preserve vital, historic architectural gems in the UNESCO heritage site and to improve local air quality and health.

Finally, the vast district heating network in host city Copenhagen, Denmark serves 98% of all building space in the city, utilizing heat from waste incineration as primary supply and CHP as the foundation of a Heat Plan to move the city to be completely carbon neutral by 2025.

Other participants included District Energy St. Paul, which has reduced energy costs for consumers, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 250,000 tonnes per year and  grown to be the largest hot water district heating network in North America.

The Summit organizers authored and released a set of five Recommendations to the UN Climate Panel, which is scheduled to convene in Copenhagen at the UN Climate Change Conference December 7–18, 2009. The topics covered by the Summit recommendations are:

1. To pay more attention to heating and cooling markets, as well as to consistently monitor and explicitly address these by international agreements, cooperation mechanisms and national legislation.

2. To prioritise action in urban areas and foster the integration of urban functions (waste incineration, industrial production, transport, services, household demands etc.) by promoting systematic heating and cooling infrastructure planning.

3. To acknowledge district heating and cooling as important tool for climate change mitigation and the importance of financing new heating and cooling networks as well as the upgrading of existing networks where appropriate.

4. To promote the integration of supply side and demand side policies, by focusing on system efficiency in terms of primary energy rather than on final energy use.

5. To reinforce international research programmes to provide a long-term framework for benchmarking and transfer of best knowledge/legislative practice in district heating and cooling.

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IDEA E-mail Bulletin • November 6, 2009