It is a distinct honor to be serving
as chair of the International District
Energy Association as it celebrates
its 100th anniversary.
The association’s founders could
never have imagined that the orga-
nization they were founding in July
1909 would still be standing and thriving 100 years later.
Not many organizations can say the same. Originally known
as the National District Heating Association, IDEA has been
around longer than the Edison Electric Institute, the U.S.
Conference of Mayors and the Walt Disney Company!
1909 also marked the year of the first airplane flight in
Canada, reinforcing the drastic difference between our
founders’ world and the world we know today. In fact,
consider this: When the third National District Heating
Association conference was held in the Fort Pitt Hotel in
Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1911, the association’s secretary
reported that “with cobblestone streets along each end
it was necessary at times to stop until heavily loaded
wagons would pass.” I doubt we’ll have that problem at
the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.
But at least one thread, a steady theme between 1909 and
2009, ties us together: a vision for an even brighter energy
future for our nations, for our world. The founders were
convinced that their district heating technology could make
a difference. And so are we, as we continue to promote
district energy and combined heat and power systems,
adapting and changing them along with the times.
Although a Canadian, I have long studied American history and know that vision and looking to the future have long been drivers for the country’s leaders. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
How appropriate that is as we stand at this very important
place in time, a time of great change, not just in the United
States and Canada, but also around the world. We are
grappling with difficult economic realities and a changing
energy and climate landscape.
Yet I truly believe that district energy can be a bridge to the
future for the cities and campuses worldwide. It is the core
of my theme for this year, “Local Energy, Global Solutions.”
The answer to global environmental issues lies within our
very own communities: The first step toward erasing our
environmental footprint must be the better use of depleting
fossil fuels – or, more succinctly, the support of district
energy expansion. In addition, the theme brings attention
to the fuel-efficient municipal and campus district energy
systems, which have been beacons of environmental
stewardship for more than a century.
I hope the concept lives on beyond my term – serving as
a springboard for how we view the future, embracing the
best of the past and harnessing its strengths to make our
cities and campuses vibrant and sustainable for decades
IDEA certainly has a bright future, with the district energy
and CHP technologies as its focal points and Rob Thornton
as its leader. I thank Rob and his entire team for their
tireless efforts and for making my tenure enjoyable and
I also extend my sincere thank you to past chair Bob Smith
of RMF Engineering, whose leadership and support have
been invaluable. His presence will be missed. Also leaving
the board this year are Cliff Braddock of TAS, John Carlson
of Burns and McDonnell and Mike Goff of Stanford
University, all of whom have contributed so much to IDEA
during their board tenure. I also want to recognize and
thank Dany Safi of Renewrgy for his leadership and commitment to the industry in guiding the growth of IDEA in the
Middle East and beyond.
Finally, I welcome Juan Ontiveros, our chair-elect. I am
privileged to have known Juan for many years. He is the
perfect choice to get us started on our next 100 years.
As I pass on the gavel, I leave you with these words from
John F. Kennedy: “When written in Chinese, the word
‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents
danger and the other represents opportunity.” We may
have challenges before us, but they are our challenges
What an opportunity it has been to be your chair during
this 100th anniversary year. It has been a privilege I will
not soon forget.
President and CEO, Enwave Energy Corp.