Global climate progress
2022 was a year for groundbreaking climate legislation and productive talks around the world in efforts to curb the negative effects of climate change.
In August, the U.S. Senate reached a groundbreaking $369 billion climate agreement, The Inflation Reduction Act. The Act is a milestone victory for the green sector, with a record-shattering investment in emissions-free energy production. It promises to cut carbon emissions by 40% nationwide and massively overhaul how Americans get their electricity, heating, and cooling.
The Inflation Reduction Act incentivizes developers to build new emissions-free electricity sources, such as geothermal heating, wind turbines, and solar panels, by offering billions of dollars in tax credits over ten years. Overall, the legislation is exciting as it stands to rapidly speed up the U.S.’s transition away from fossil fuels and bring us closer to the emissions targets set in the Paris Climate Accord.
In December, the Biden Administration also announced the first-ever Federal Building Performance Standard (BPS), which aims to cut energy use and electrify equipment and appliances in 30% of Federally owned building space by 2030.
This announcement paves the way for Federal buildings to adopt cleaner, more energy-efficient technologies. This transition to green energy is critical to achieving President Biden’s net-zero emissions goal across all Federal buildings by 2045.
In November, COP27 was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and a slew of promising conversations came out of the discussions between global leaders.
‘Greenwashing’ was a key topic of conversation at this year’s COP27 talks. The UN released a report taking aim at “greenwashing” and calling for private companies and city governments that have made net-zero pledges to publicly report on their progress with verified information. As more and more organizations pledge their carbon reductions goals, global leaders are calling for accountability and transparency in the steps they are taking to meet these goals.
Our Clean Energy Future progress
This year, Vicinity has taken some critical steps in our Clean Energy Future Commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions across all our operations by 2050 or sooner.
In April, we launched eSteam™, an innovative carbon-free product designed to rapidly decarbonize the highest source of emissions in major cities: commercial buildings.
We are offering renewable thermal energy to our customers by installing electric boilers, industrial-scale heat pumps, and thermal storage at our central facilities starting in Boston and Cambridge, with our other districts to follow.
Our first electric asset will enter service in late 2024, when we will procure electricity from renewable, carbon-free energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro to generate eSteam™.
IQHQ will be Vicinity’s first customer to power the rapid decarbonization of its buildings in Boston with carbon-free eSteam™.
In November, we officially kicked off our electrification plans with the deconstruction of a steam turbine at the Kendall Green Energy Cogeneration Facility. We will install an electric boiler in its place that will enter service in 2024 and help our customers in Boston and Cambridge decarbonize their buildings.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu helped commemorate the day at our Kendall facility. “It is clear that the work of ensuring our planet remains livable is going to require all of us: every level of government, business, and community,” Mayor Wu noted at the event. “We’re very grateful that Vicinity’s carbon-free eSteam™ product will power the leading industries we’re already known for here in Greater Boston such as life sciences, healthcare, commercial real estate, and many more.”
While our electrification plans have taken shape this year, we’ve also continued to serve our customers with the most sustainable energy possible and repurpose existing equipment at our facilities.
We’ve continued to utilize biogenic fuels to power our operations in Boston, Cambridge, and Philadelphia. LR100 is a unique biogenic fuel derived from waste cooking oil and fats discarded by the local food service industry.
This fuel has helped us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and allows us to generate lower-carbon steam in the very same communities from which it came. The use of biogenic fuels in our Philadelphia facility has helped reduce Vicinity cut carbon emissions by 12,200 tons, or the equivalent of removing 2,650 cars from Philadelphia’s roads each year.
To store this biogenic fuel and provide our Boston and Cambridge customers with low-carbon steam, our Kendall Cogeneration Facility has repurposed an old natural gas boiler to store the biogenic fuel.
Our Environmental Health & Safety teams around the country were also hard at work this year to better communities and lead green projects at our facilities.
Some of this work includes:
- Lighting & water audits
- PV array planning
- Planting trees
- Electric vehicles
- Groundwater injection
- Fire safety and review
- Refillable water stations
- Recycling initiatives, including recycling around 200 lbs. of Keurig cups with TerraCycle
- Supporting environmental legislation at the local, state, and federal levels
Women at Vicinity Energy (W@VE)
This year, Vicinity proudly rolled out “W@VE”, our new women’s network dedicated to fostering career development and leadership opportunities for women at Vicinity.
Some of the objectives established for the program include constructing a supportive community of women, attracting talent for career advancement and leadership opportunities, building a network of advocates and mentors to improve diversity and inclusion within the organization, and providing mentoring and access to senior leadership.
Our co-directors Jaklyn Cross and Medina Jones kickstarted this program back in October and have since led some empowering discussions regarding the two books we have read this year, “Own the Room” by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maigan and “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. We look forward to more opportunities to cultivate the talent of women in our community as they continue to embrace their individuality and strive towards achieving their full potential.
Awards we received
In 2022, we were honored to receive several awards by industry organizations, local communities, and administrations. We are grateful for the teams, partners, and communities that made this year so monumental.
The annual “Philly’s Best” list from Metro Philadelphia recognizes the best businesses in the city, awarding one winner per category. Recipients are nominated by the Philadelphia community and are selected by vote. In 2021, Vicinity also received this award by the community.
Outstanding Mechanical Installation (OMI) Award
In June, our Kansas City team was awarded with an Outstanding Mechanical Installation (OMI) Award in the large mechanical project class by the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Kansas City, Missouri, for our chilled water lateral expansion project.
The project expanded Vicinity’s district energy system piping 12,000 ft. to serve chilled water to the west side of Kansas City’s Central Business District. In conjunction with contractors Enerfab and engineers at Davidson Architecture + Engineering, the project included the interconnection of three customer buildings to be served by the lateral expansion: Flashcube apartments, KC Downtown Convention Center Hotel, and the MC Realty-owned 114 W. 11th Street.
International District Energy Association Awards
The annual award highlights industry growth, recognizing the district energy systems with the largest total number of buildings and building area in square feet committed or recommitted to district energy service by IDEA member systems.
Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence
In April, Vicinity’s Philadelphia team was honored for our commitment to sustainability with the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence by Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The annual award acknowledges schools, businesses, community organizations, and civic leaders working on projects that promote environmental stewardship in Pennsylvania. Our team was recognized for the incorporation of LR100™ into our fuel mix, a biogenic fuel composed of waste vegetable oil collected from Philadelphia’s restaurants and food services businesses.
Throughout 2022, our teams across regions have prioritized giving back to their local communities. Vicinity values these hands-on community engagement opportunities to increase our understanding of the communities we serve and to build long-lasting relationships with local organizations who share our passion for public service and supporting those in need.
Boston Kendall Square Challenge
Early this summer, team Vicinity competed in the Boston Kendall Square Challenge to raise money for five local nonprofits.
Life science and tech companies throughout the region spent an afternoon competing in physical, intellectual, and community-based missions across Kendall Square. This event underscored the interconnectedness of these forward-thinking companies and gave way for some healthy community-based competition.
Baltimore City Public Schools
Back in August, our South Region Green Solutions team donated over 100 backpacks to a local Baltimore public school to gear up students for the upcoming school year. Each backpack came equipped with a coloring page to kick start the year on a positive note.
Vicinity proudly serves as a partner in education with the Baltimore City Public Schools, and we look forward to more Baltimore-based community service in the new year!
Friends of Schuylkill River Park
In September, our Philly team partnered up with Friends of Schuylkill River Park, a non-profit in Southwest Center City. The group’s mission is to preserve, beautify, improve, and maintain the family-favorite park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Together, the volunteers built and stained five new picnic tables for public use at the park. Going into 2023, Vicinity looks forward to more projects on the horizon with this group.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
This past November, we honored Veterans Day and the Military Community by joining forces with our Grays Ferry neighbors at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.
The Penn Vet Working Dog Center has its roots in the search and rescue dogs that saved countless lives searching the rubble of 9/11 in New York City. The center trains search and detection dogs to work alongside the military and first responder communities, serving myriad roles. Dogs in the program are named in remembrance of individuals who lost their lives during 9/11 and the canine heroes who served following the attacks. Today, detection dogs are still recognized as the most effective tool for detecting and mitigating potential security threats.
Vicinity team members assisted the center by cleaning their indoor training mats and relocating a scent training wall. They also arranged pallets for a dog training exercise which involves tracking a scent through a rubble yard.
Ellsworth Street a Makeover
To kick off the start of autumn in Philadelphia, members of our green team in addition to the entire distribution department got together for some hands-on work cleaning the area.
Over the course of the day, the team successfully cleared out this massive pile of illegal dumping and gave Ellsworth Street a makeover!
Events and tours
This year, our teams welcomed professional groups, legislators, and community members for tours at our facilities across the country, where they got an inside look into how our green steam is created. Our team members also spoke at various events to discuss our clean energy future plan, renewable energy sources, and the steps we’re taking to green the communities we serve.
2022 Invest: Philadelphia Leadership Summit
Jackie Bliss, Chief Customer Officer at Vicinity spoke about Philadelphia’s energy sector and sourcing renewable power at the 2022 Invest: Philadelphia Leadership Summit with Capital Analytics.
Prominent industry leaders across Philadelphia convened at the Downtown Marriot for an in-depth review of the region’s economic potential as well as accompanying challenges. Bliss specified the importance of investing in renewable infrastructure, highlighting how “The challenges are still on education and letting people know that this equipment is an option to go green both fast and cost-effectively”.
Net Zero Massachusetts
Back in May, Vicinity CEO Bill DiCroce joined a panel Massachusetts’s leaders, legislators, and Office of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at State House News Service’s Net Zero Massachusetts event to discuss the outlook for critical renewable and clean energy sources.
Bill DiCroce outlined the path forward to electrify district energy systems and decarbonize building in city centers. This event was a valuable opportunity for Vicinity to hear from climate action leaders and contribute to the conversation regarding the outlook for renewable clean energy sources in Massachusetts.
Maryland House of Delegates
In December, several members of the Maryland House of Delegates visited our Chilled Water Plant in Baltimore for a tour and presentation detailing our decarbonization plan for the city.
The decarbonization of our Baltimore system will help our customers and the state of Baltimore meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals set forth by the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022.
Bisnow’s Philadelphia Healthcare and Life Sciences Conference
In October, Brian Mueller, Chief Development Officer at Vicinity, spoke on the “Embracing the Life Science Surge” panel at Bisnow’s Philadelphia Healthcare and Life Sciences Conference.
This event covered emerging trends in addition to the future of biotechnology in Philadelphia.
Kendall Facility Tour
In August, we welcomed guests from the City of Boston for a tour of our Kendall Facility.
Visitors explored the ins and outs of the facility and gained insight into Vicinity’s electrification plans for Boston and Cambridge from CEO Bill DiCroce, Matt O’Malley, Kevin Hagerty, and Don Silva, who led a captivating conversation surrounding Vicinity’s decarbonization objectives along with other innovative approaches to reaching Net Zero 2050.
Vicinity in the media
In 2022, Vicinity was featured in several media publications. Check out some of the great news stories and interviews that were published this year:
Over the course of the year, our team members worked tirelessly towards supplying new and innovative energy technologies, with the overarching goal of driving carbon reductions within the communities we serve.
We could not be more grateful for this dedicated team that puts in the work to create a cleaner and greener environment for generations to come. 2023 is already off to a great start for the energy community and we cannot wait to see what the future holds.