District energy systems have been operating in the US for over 100 years and currently serve more than 4.3 billion sq ft of building space, including landmark buildings like the US Capitol and Supreme Court, the Empire State Building, the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School.
District energy networks are very common in dense downtown areas and at colleges and universities. They are also often found at medical campuses, military bases, office parks, convention centers, sports arenas, airports, sustainable housing developments, or other clusters of buildings.
Sometimes all of the buildings in a district energy network are commonly owned, as at a university or medical campus; in other cases each building is privately owned, as in a downtown area. The number of customer buildings served by a typical district energy system may range from as few as three or four in a new project under development to as many as 1,800 (as with Con Edison Steam Business Unit in Manhattan, the largest district steam system in the world).
Mature steam systems in U.S. cities like Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Boston or Denver serve between 200 and 400 customer buildings. Larger and established combination district heating and district cooling systems such as those in Hartford, Minneapolis, and Omaha generally serve between 65 and 150 customer buildings on heating and between 50 and 125 customer buildings on cooling. In most cases, the urban district energy system typically serves over 50% of the Class A commercial office space in the central business district and in many cases, market share exceeds 85%.
District energy systems are the preferred method of heating and cooling most major college and university campuses. In the U.S. hundreds of campus energy systems provide highly reliable and scalable energy supply. Many U.S. universities are adding or increasing their ability to generate electricity on campus and are recycling heat from power generation to heat buildings and drive steam chillers for campus air conditioning.
Content Courtesy of International District Energy Association