IDHA and BOMA: In 1977 IDHA collaborated with BOMA
International to publish “How to Operate and Maintain a Building and
Its Heating System to Gain Greater Comfort With Minimum Steam Use.”
Described as “a handy, informative little 55-page book,” it sold for
$1 plus shipping and handling.
A Vote for Inclusion
In 1973, IDHA appointed a special task force to investigate whether
university members should be eligible for election as officers of the
association. The ensuing study of the constitution and by-laws led to the
recommendation that changes be made to open up the officers’ posi-
tions to university members. The proposed by-laws changes, subsequently
approved, reflected growing participation in association affairs by non-utili-
ty company members and permitted college, university and other institu-
tional members to be eligible for election to the offices of vice president
and president. IDHA’s first president representing a university was John
Vandermolen from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, in 1981.
He also was the association’s first president from Canada.
Pabst Part of District Heating’s Past
In 1896, The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company (TMER&L) in
Milwaukee, Wis., was incorporated around existing street railways, which
had recently been electrified. This company would become the Wisconsin
Electric Power Company in 1938 and We Energies in 2001.
The origins of district heating in Milwaukee date to 1897, when TMER&L
purchased various assets from brewer Frederick Pabst, including a pair of
powerhouses. The “lighting plant” on Broadway in downtown Milwaukee
also distributed waste steam to the Pabst Theater, the Pabst-owned St.
Charles Hotel, and other buildings on the east side of the Milwaukee River.
As a result, it was the earliest instance of cogeneration in what became
the We Energies steam system.
At least one customer has been served by the district heating system for
more than 100 years: Wisconsin Telephone, now AT&T Wisconsin. Drawings
from 1908 show the steam connection at its original building near Grand
(Wisconsin) Ave. and Fifth St. Wisconsin Telephone moved from this building
to its current location on North
Broadway in the 1920s, and the
‘new’ building has always been
served by the district heating
Photo Carol M. Highsmith.
Currently, We Energies owns
two district heating systems in
Milwaukee and Wauwatosa,
We Energies’ long run of service continues,
providing steam to one of the city’s newest
buildings – the Milwaukee Art Museum –
which has become a city landmark.
Wis., serving 468 steam account
customers. Source: We Energies.
International Industry News from 1979: IDHA-
member Perma-Pipe announces it has received a contract to provide more
than 200,000 ft of insulated steel pipe for the King Khalid Military City district
cooling system in Saudi Arabia. It was the company’s first contract in the
Middle East marketplace.
Local Association News: Upper Midwest Section of IDHA
formed in 1981 by IDHA members at the District Heating Development Co.
in St. Paul, Minn., and the Minneapolis Energy Center. A New England
Section was active in the 1970s.
The number of employed engineers in the U.S.
doubled to more than 1. 5 million between
1960 and 1982.
IDHA Goes to Washington
In 1980 IDHA packed up its Pittsburgh office and moved the association’s
headquarters to Washington, D.C., to be closer to the powers that be. Along
with the move came a new column in District Heating magazine called
“Washington Boiler,” where the executive director each issue summarized
the work IDHA was conducting in the legislative arena.
A New Look: What was then known as District Heating
magazine got a new look in the early 1980s.
To Merge or Not to Merge, That Was the Question
In the early 1980s a competing district energy association was born –
the North American District Heating and Cooling Institute. At the time,
IDHA was known for its technical background and solid utility and physical
plant membership base; NADHCI became known for its legislative lobbying,
marketing and a strong supplier and consultant membership base.
IDHA’s board felt it was important to consolidate the industry so it
could speak with one voice in Washington, plus the association was experiencing financial constraints. As a result, IDHA approached NADHCI about a
merger. IDHA President Tony Mirabella led the effort, integrating membership
feedback and board direction into ongoing negotiations. There was even a
proposed name: American District Heating and Cooling Association. As of
the end of IDHA’s 75th anniversary year 1984, a final decision had not been
reached, but negotiations continued. Ultimately the merger did not proceed
and NADHCI was disbanded.
Meet Our 1984 Magazine Advertisers
Advanced Thermal Systems*
American Hydrotherm Corp.
Armstrong Machine Works
Cadillac Meter Co.
George Grant Co.
Kent Process Control Co.
Ricwil (now part of Perma-Pipe)*
Swedish Trade Office
* These companies are present-day
magazine advertisers as well!