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Region: The Americas

Resiliency drives renewed interest in District Energy in the United States

Industry insider shares factors driving demand for cooling over heating


Gary Phetteplace

Dubai, UAE, 25 April 2019: Although progress of District Heating and District Cooling in the United States has remained largely stagnant, there has been renewed interest in the past 5-10 years, said Gary Phetteplace, President, GWA Research, Member, ASHRAE. “A lot of it has to do with microgrids assuring resiliency,” he said. “Mostly, we learned from bad storms that the grid is not very durable, and if you want to have an assured supply then you’re probably going to have to take care of it yourself.” Phetteplace said that the need for self-reliance has been driving District Energy, as often, there is a surplus of heat, which makes cogeneration – even tri-generation – more cost-effective, a trend he has readily observed across universities.

Phetteplace said that cooling demand in the United States is continuing to grow. “It’s not just because people want air conditioned environments,” he said. “The heat loads inside our buildings are getting greater, with more computer equipment and printers and all.” In addition to more equipment entering buildings, Phetteplace pointed out that tighter building envelopes to conserve energy mean that most spaces do not lose heat as easily as they did before. It is a combination of these factors, he said, that has created a requirement for cooling more than heating over the years.

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