The First 25 Years:
Looking back, but eyeing the future
The International District Energy
Association is proud to begin
celebrating its 100th anniversary
year. In each issue of District Energy
magazine during this year we will
dedicate space to taking a look at
the past 100 years of informing,
connecting and advancing the industry. This issue’s focus is the
early years – 1909-1934. We believe this look back will help you
look forward at the incredible opportunity that now stands before
us on the world energy stage. We’ve stood the test of time, we’ve
proved the technology works, and we’re positioned to make a difference for many decades to come.
IDEA was founded as the National District Heating Association on
July 15, 1909, in Toledo, Ohio. IDEA and its predecessors have
held an annual conference every year since, except 1918 when
the conference was not held because of World War I. [For more
detail on IDEA’s history (written to mark the 90th anniversary),
visit www.districtenergy.org/idea_ history.htm.)] The association’s
magazine began quarterly publication as “The Bulletin of the
National District Heating Association” in 1915.
Presidents (now known as chairs) hailed from:
Baltimore, Md. – 1x Peoria, Ill. – 1x
Boston, Mass. – 1x Philadelphia, Pa. – 1x
Chicago, Ill. – 4x Pittsburgh, Pa. – 2x
Detroit, Mich. – 4x Rochester, N. Y. – 3x
Grand Rapids, Mich. – 2x St. Louis, Mo. – 1x
New York, N. Y. – 4x Toledo, Ohio – 1x
Annual conference locations:
Atlantic City, N.J. – 1x New York, N. Y. – 2x
Boston, Mass. – 1x Niagara Falls, N. Y. – 1x
Cedar Point, Ohio – 3x Pittsburgh, Pa. – 3x
Chicago, Ill. – 3x Rochester, N. Y. – 2x
Columbus, Ohio – 1 St. Louis, Mo. – 1x
Detroit, Mich. – 3x Toledo, Ohio – 1x
Indianapolis, Ind. – 1x West Baden, Ind. – 2x
Here are just a few current IDEA members that had some of the first
commercial district heating systems in the country, which were likely
represented in NDHA’s membership during its startup years. They are
still thriving, as is ‘NDHA.’
Xcel Energy, Denver – System began operation 1880. Considered
oldest continuously operating commercial district heating system in
Con Edison Steam Operations – System began operation 1882.
Continues to use combined heat and power technology.
Citizens Thermal Energy – System began operation 1888 in a barn.
Current Perry K Plant built in 1893. Uses steam from municipal refuse
incinerator as backup.
Seattle Steam Co. – System began operation 1893. Currently
installing biomass-fueled boiler.
Detroit Thermal – System began operation 1903. 70-80% of steam
sold is from municipal refuse-fired cogeneration plant.
In 1919, NDHA colocated its annual conference
with a meeting of the American Society of
Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHRAE’s
predecessor) in Pittsburgh. That same year
ASHVE opened a research laboratory at the
U.S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh; perhaps
that drove the meeting location.
published in 1921
as a “working
manual of district heating practice.” The second
edition was issued in 1932 and featured this NDHA
logotype, which reflects the art deco era.
Cedar Point, Ohio, was the hot spot for NDHA conferences in the early 1920s, serving
as the venue in 1921, 1922 and 1923. Attendees are shown here enjoying the beach
June 20-23, 1922. Cedar Point is home to the “number-one rated amusement park on the
planet” and has been since 1870, according to the Cedar Point Web site. Rumor has it
that college football legend and Notre Dame great Knute Rockne worked as a lifeguard here with teammate and quarterback Gus Dorais in 1913. During their free time
they supposedly perfected the forward pass on this very Cedar Point Beach.