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District Heating & Cooling

District energy networks provide one of the most sustainable and cost-effective methods to heat and cool spaces.

Innovative, Sustainable District Energy Solutions

District energy is an innovative energy solution that involves the production of thermal energy at a central facility and distribution to buildings via an underground piping network.

Vicinity owns, operates and maintains the largest district energy portfolio across the U.S., providing highly reliable clean steam, electricity, hot water and chilled water to over 230+ million square feet of building space in cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Trenton and Grand Rapids, to name a few.

Cooling

We provide centrally produced chilled water for cooling, eliminating the need for customers to purchase, operate and maintain chillers and cooling towers. Our steam can also be used to power steam absorption chillers and steam-driven turbine chillers to provide cooling, helping minimize a building’s peak electricity demand and costs.

Heating

We provide centrally produced steam and hot water to meet the space conditioning, humidification and process needs of our customers. Whatever the requirements and capital budget may be, we can design and implement an efficient steam or hot water solution. Our heating services are provided from highly reliable and sustainable plants and distributed through robust underground networks.

Domestic Hot Water

For customers using steam for heating, humidification or air conditioning, we offer a way to maximize the building’s cost-efficiency through condensate recovery. By gathering the water that collects as a steam by-product, water is recaptured and recycled to help heat the domestic water supply, resulting in virtually free hot water for our customers.

Sustainable District Energy to Meet Your Energy Solution Needs

As cities become more condensed and extreme weather events increase, having an uninterrupted and sustainable energy supply has become critically important to human health and economic prosperity. For facilities, communities, and campuses that require and consume high volumes of electricity, heat, and chilled water to operate efficiently, district energy is helping to free up space in buildings, save building owners money, and improve reliability and sustainability.

Our steam distribution networks can interface with any type of HVAC building system to provide low cost and reliable thermal energy and cooling. Our centrally-produced chilled water eliminates the need for customers to purchase, operate and maintain chillers and cooling towers.

Several of our existing locations integrate combined heat and power (CHP). CHP simultaneously produces power and thermal energy in the form of waste heat. Vicinity captures this waste heat to produce green, low carbon steam, which is delivered to our customers. CHP consumes far fewer units of fuel than if the two products are produced separately and can exceed 80% efficiency. 

Learn More about CHP >

What Benefits Can District Energy Offer You?

District energy presents numerous benefits, aside from energy efficiency improvements and a reduction of carbon emissions through the seamless integration of renewables in the energy mix.

  • Transfer energy, operating and environmental risks to Vicinity
  • Leverage a green energy solution that integrates sustainable technologies and renewable fuel sources
  • Achieve potential points for LEED and ENERGY STAR certification
  • Depend on 99.99% reliable energy delivery
  • Rely on interconnected central energy facilities with redundant power, back-up generation and multiple water and fuel sources in the event of interruptions to other utilities
  • Improve your bottom line with competitive energy pricing and eliminate capital costs, interest payments, property taxes and insurance costs
  • Minimize labor and administrative costs and ongoing O&M expenses for onsite boiler and/or chiller plant operation
  • Reduce the cost of development, lower energy infrastructure life cycle costs and redeploy capital to core business objectives through our financing capabilities
  • Reserve usable building square footage and increase opportunities for revenue-generating space that would have otherwise been occupied by large mechanical equipment
  • Improve safety of energy system operation and lower insurance rates by removing onsite fuel combustion sources and chemical storage
  • Count on industry-leading safety performance
  • Focus on your core business functions without the hassle of having to manage a central plant

Reliable service is essential in operating the Walnut Street Theatre, America’s oldest theatre. Vicinity provides first class service to keep our National Historic Landmark building efficiently operating for today’s modern demands.

Mark D. Sylvester

Managing Director, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, PA

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How will Vicinity decarbonize?

    The backbone of Vicinity’s decarbonization plan is the electrification of its operations. Electrified district energy utilizes existing infrastructure at a central facility and the irreplaceable and robust distribution piping to decarbonize urban buildings. Vicinity will import carbon-free electrons through co-located, existing substations to power electric boilers, coupled with industrial-scale heat pumps and thermal batteries, to deliver electrified, clean steam for heating, cooling, sterilization, humidification, and other thermal energy needs.

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  • What is district energy?

    District energy uses a centrally-located facility, or facilities, to generate thermal energy – heat, hot water, or chilled water – for commercial buildings that form an “energy district.” The energy is transported through underground pipes to meet the needs of commercial and institutional buildings such as life sciences, college and hospital campuses, museums, hospitality, airports, and office parks.

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  • What are the benefits of district energy systems?

    District energy provided multiple advantages:

    • Freedom from asset ownership and the costs associated with maintenance
    • Wholesale energy pricing and stability
    • Efficient energy delivery
    • Greater reliability and redundancy in energy supply
    • Reduced carbon footprint

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  • What is combined heat and power (CHP)?
    Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electricity and thermal energy from a single energy source. Unlike a traditional power plant that discards excess heat from its power generation process, CHP harnesses this recovered steam for cleanly and efficiently heating and cooling commercial buildings. Two useful end products are created through one process.

  • Is district energy sustainable?

    Yes. District energy systems are agnostic to fuel type. This fuel flexibility enables the use of lower-carbon, local sources of energy, increasing the resiliency and security of the network and the health of our communities. Decarbonization upgrades to our centralized facilities immediately benefit our entire network. As more new renewable technologies and sources come online, district energy systems can easily integrate these into their existing, robust distribution systems.

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  • How quickly can a district energy system recover from a natural disaster event?

    Quickly. District energy systems can isolate issues and have built-in redundancy to leverage multiple generating assets and fuel, power, and water sources to maintain reliable service even in the most demanding weather events.

    If a piece of equipment or utility source is compromised or experiencing any issues, the system can continue to operate by drawing from its backup sources and infrastructure. With insulated carbon steel conduit piping encased in concrete, a district energy network’s distribution system is more robust and resilient than conventional utility alternatives, even during extreme weather events.

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  • Is district energy safe?

    Yes. Unlike onsite generation – which intrinsically involves onsite combustion as part of the energy generation process – district energy is a safer alternative. With district energy, thermal energy is produced at a central facility and distributed to individual buildings via underground piping, eliminating the safety risks associated with onsite generation.

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