As I write this column, we are in the
midst of my favorite time of year, my
favorite sporting event – March
Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament. This annual event showcases exceptional teamwork by talented athletes who,
amidst great uncertainty and under real pressure, compete with full effort. You can tell
they simply love to play the game.
What makes college basketball, and this
tournament, so compelling is not just basketball skills on display, but the uncertainty of
the final outcome. A whole season, or in some
cases, a coaching career, can be decided on
one missed free throw, a last second shot at
the buzzer or an errant pass out of bounds.
The final minutes of a close game are magical
to watch. Strategy, execution and athleticism
cution, scouting and mapping our legislative
and regulatory agenda and recruiting and
supporting our new industry members here
in the U.S. and in the Middle East. The pace
of our schedule shows no sign of letting up
In January, we opened the season by
launching the IDEA Middle East Chapter at a
very successful International District Cooling
Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab
Emirates. While our original game plan called
for 150 to 200 attendees, we were pleasantly
surprised to welcome more than 340 registrants from 20 different countries. Playing to
our strengths with an outstanding home team,
Tabreed rolled out the red carpet for all of
these IDEA members and guests at the
Emirates Palace. Tabreed hosted an elegant
Gala Opening Dinner and sponsored unique
coaches for the technical tours.
Likewise, the tremendous support and
involvement of Palm District Cooling and
Emicool in the conference technical sessions,
plant room tours and generous hospitality
made huge contributions to our success.
There is tremendous opportunity for IDEA
and interest in district cooling in the region.
We are now scouting locations for our next
conference to occur in Dubai in either fourth
quarter 2007 or first quarter 2008.
Almost immediately afterward, we suited
up for our next conference in Houston, Texas,
in February. Thermal Energy Corp. and Rice
University served as our hosts for the 20th
Annual Campus Energy Conference. We nearly
set an attendance record with more than
340 people, including 64 people attending
an IDEA conference for the first time.
The pre-conference workshop on emergency preparedness and response was the
perfect game plan for institutional energy
professionals responsible for highly reliable
service to mission-critical facilities like the M. D.
Anderson Cancer Center in the Texas Medical
Center. The essence of IDEA is the collegial
exchange of experience and good ideas with
the intent of helping each other. In preparing
our campus energy systems to perform reliably
during emergencies and natural disasters,
reminds me of a quote from John Wooden,
the venerable coach of UCLA, who once said
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when
will you have time to do it over?”
Today, our pre-game preparation is
focused on the 98th Annual Conference &
Trade Show in Scottsdale, Ariz., in June 2007.
Nearly 70 exhibitors, more than 30 presentations and panel discussions will explore key
business and technical issues for the industry.
Another key attribute of IDEA is how our
conferences integrate end-users and service
providers to create a high-value marketplace
of ideas and solutions. Our host, Northwind
Phoenix, owns and operates one of the most
successful and fastest-growing district cooling
systems in the United States, nearly doubling
in size since operations began in 2001. The
talented and dedicated people of Northwind
are commissioning a new combined heat and
power facility, the Sun Devil Energy Center, on
the campus of Arizona State University, one of
the largest schools in the United States. This
new CHP facility reflects the joint emphasis
on sustainable energy solutions espoused by
ASU and the City of Phoenix. The combination
of CHP, ice storage and remote operations
should make this tour a valuable learning
experience, especially for our guests from the
Middle East who are facing similar infrastructure challenges.
The legislative agenda for fed-
eral energy and environmental
policy is really heating up in
The essence of IDEA is the
collegial exchange of experi-
ence and good ideas with the
intent of helping each other.
come together in a crucible of sport. The results
can be either memorable or heart-breaking,
and you only hope that the game is decided
by talent and effort and not by a referee’s
whistle or a technicality.
With the level of activity in the district
energy industry this year, it is beginning to
feel like IDEA is experiencing our own March
Madness. From the opening tip-off of January
2007, we have been in tournament mode
with conference planning and game day exe-
In addition, we are working on plans for
the Distribution & Marketing Workshops in
fourth quarter 2007 or in combination with
the Campus Energy Conference in Boston.
We hope to have a more defined conference
schedule shortly once we sort out our best
At the same time our conference activities
are ramping up, the legislative agenda for
federal energy and environmental policy is
really heating up in Washington D.C. Climate
change has been dominating recent headlines,
and it is no longer a question of when the U.S.
will implement carbon emissions regulations,
but when and how. As Mark Spurr lays out
in his column on p. 63, the implications of
carbon regulation are profound and may well
be a defining issue for our industry. We will