The Second 25 Years:
Defying the odds, gaining momentum
The International District Energy
Association is celebrating its 100th
anniversary year. In each issue of
District Energy magazine during this
year we are dedicating space to
the past 100 years of informing,
connecting and advancing its
members and the industry.
Association minutes point out that it lost just one member company
during the Great Depression, an incredible feat given the trying times.
That staying power has been evidenced throughout the organization’s
history and is a trait we believe positions us to continue to make a
difference in the energy industry.
This issue’s focus is 1935-1959, an incredible time in history. During
these 25 years, the association and its members endured the end of
the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War, ultimately
seeing the beginning of the Space Age in the late 1950s.
IDEA was founded as the National District Heating Association (NDHA)
on July 15, 1909, in Toledo, Ohio. IDEA and its predecessors have
held an annual conference every year since, except for 1918 when
the conference was not held because of World War I. The April
1959 50th anniversary issue of District Heating magazine contains
associationandindustryhistory.It is available at www.districtenergy-
The Second 25 Years
Presidents (now known as chairs) hailed from:
Akron, Ohio – 1x New York, N. Y. – 3x
Baltimore, Md. – 1x Philadelphia, Pa. – 4x
Boston, Mass. – 2x Pittsburgh, Pa. – 2x
Dayton, Ohio – 1x Rochester, N. Y. – 2x
Detroit, Mich. – 4x St. Louis, Mo. – 2x
Duluth, Minn. – 2x Toledo, Ohio – 1x
Annual conference locations:
Asheville, N.C. – 1x Lookout Mountain, Tenn. – 1x
Atlantic City, N.J. – 1x New York, N. Y. – 1x
Baltimore, Md. – 1x Philadelphia, Pa. – 1x
Chicago, Ill. – 1x Pittsburgh, Pa. – 3x
Cleveland, Ohio – 1x St. Louis, Mo. – 1x
Dayton, Ohio – 1x Skytop, Pa. – 2x
Detroit, Mich. – 2x Swampscott, Mass. – 1x
French Lick, Ind. – 2x Virginia Beach, Va. – 1x
Grand Rapids, Mich. – 1x White Sulphur Springs, W.V. – 1x
Hot Springs, Va. – 1x Williamsburg, Va. – 1x
An Industry Frontrunner With
IDEA-member NRG Energy Center San Francisco traces its district heating
system’s roots to 1885, when its predecessors began operation of an
off-site boiler plant for a nearby hotel. The main plant was built in
1924 and has some notable longtime customers:
The Flood Building – 870 Market. Built 1904; survived 1906 earthquake
and fire but underwent restoration as needed in 1907.
The Phelan Building – 760 Market. Rebuilt 1908 after earthquake and fire.
St. Boniface Church – 137 Golden Gate. Rebuilt 1908 after earthquake and fire.
Old St. Mary's Church – 660 California. Renovated 1909 after earthquake and fire.
The Olympic Club – 524 Post. Rebuilt 1912 after earthquake and fire.
Orpheum Theater – 1192 Market. Constructed 1926.
Russ Building – 235 Montgomery. Constructed 1927.
Grace Cathedral – 1190 California. Constructed 1928.
These members of NDHA’s executive committee
in 1938 likely played a role in the association’s
continued operation in spite of the Great
Depression. In June 1935, the financial
committee reported that the financial
condition of the association “is much
improved,” with a net cash position of
$2,540.56. The executive committee then
approved the 1935-1936 budget, which
projected total revenue of $9,175 and total
expenses of $7,340. The committee expressed
its desire to continue building a surplus, as long as
it could be done “without curtailing the service
rendered to its members by the Association.”