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Green Steam in Philadelphia is Reducing Pennsylvania’s Carbon Footprint

Green steam refers to our low carbon thermal product, which in large part comes from a combined heat and power (CHP) process. CHP involves the production of electricity while simultaneously capturing waste heat that would otherwise be lost under conventional means. This process results in the most efficient use of clean natural gas to produce electricity and condition buildings. Conventional power plants waste two-thirds of the fuel energy they consume by discarding this waste heat into cooling towers, rivers or oceans. Through CHP, Vicinity heats and cools Philadelphia with that recovered energy. Further greening of our steam is derived from the use of biofuels. We are continuously evaluating the economics of other low carbon energy sources, such as renewable electricity, hydrogen and storage.

Vicinity in Philadelphia

Located beneath the streets and bridges of Philadelphia, invisible to the city above, is a network of district energy steam pipes delivering environmentally friendly thermal energy or ‘green steam’ to renowned universities, medical research institutions, hospitals, hotels, commercial offices, government buildings, and residential apartments and condominiums.

As one of the largest district energy systems in the nation, the Philadelphia network encompasses two steam production facilities, one chilled water facility and more than 41 miles of underground piping. This system touches nearly 100 million square feet of building space over the heating and cooling seasons, with tremendous existing and future potential to reduce Philadelphia’s carbon footprint.

Investment in CHP, District Energy and Alternative Fuel

Vicinity’s multimillion-dollar investment has improved the city’s critical energy infrastructure and enables the Philadelphia integrated district energy system to produce and distribute ‘green steam’ – which avoids more than 300,000 tons of CO2 per year. That reduction is the equivalent of removing more than 60,000 cars from the roads. Vicinity’s investments have also increased the resiliency of our already robust critical energy infrastructure, ensuring that we deliver greater than 99.99% of the year. Customers enjoy these multiple benefits of increased capacity, reliability and overall system efficiency. We are actively evaluating new technologies, while also pursuing energy policy initiatives that preserve, as well as advance, these infrastructure and environmental benefits.

A Tool for Philadelphia’s GHG Reduction Goals

Our mission is to continue to reduce Vicinity’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and provide a major and growing contribution towards the City of Philadelphia’s Greenworks GHG reduction goals.