eSteam™: a cost-effective, carbon-free renewable energy solution to decarbonize your commercial building

Commercial buildings represent the highest source of carbon emissions in major cities, making them one of the most important targets in urban decarbonization. eSteam™ is a unique solution that can address this challenge head-on and inexpensively decarbonize healthcare, life sciences, universities and commercial buildings with ease.

Accelerate decarbonization with eSteam™

Vicinity’s renewable thermal energy product will help you accelerate the decarbonization of your building and our communities. Our solution is turn-key. 

eSteam™ reduces the need for you to invest in new onsite energy infrastructure to meet your sustainability goals. By connecting to the district energy system, you eliminate the need to make significant investments to decarbonize your building’s thermal energy load—we’re doing that for you. Vicinity will leverage and build upon existing infrastructure, including our existing network of steam pipes, electric substations, and transmission lines, and deploy the capital needed to rapidly reduce our carbon emissions.

For our cities, Vicinity’s eSteam™ provides a way to cleanly heat and cool urban buildings—reducing the need for natural gas boilers that create unregulated gas stacks and unmonitored carbon emissions—improving overall air quality in neighborhoods.

eSteam™ is the first renewable, carbon-free thermal energy product in the United States, offering maximum flexibility and superior environmental benefits.

eSteam™ benefits:

  • Carbon-free – eSteam™ is carbon-free, so you can meet your sustainability goals and avoid looming carbon taxes.
  • Total flexibility – You nominate how much eSteam™ you want annually and select the renewable electricity source to generate your eSteam™ based on your budget and sustainability objectives.
  • Affordability – eSteam™ is the most cost-effective, affordable option to green your building compared to alternatives, like electric boilers in your building. Vicinity’s access to transmission level rates gives district energy an economic advantage over onsite equipment.
  • Avoid carbon fees and fines – Many cities in the U.S. have implemented or are considering laws that will lower greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. Oftentimes, these policies will carry hefty fines for non-compliance. eSteam™ is guaranteed carbon- free, giving you peace of mind that your building will be green, without costing you more green.
  • Maximum reliability and resiliency – Join the many customers who choose Vicinity’s district energy heating and cooling products for maximum reliability and resiliency.
  • Low capital investments – To access the benefits of eSteam™, you don’t need to invest in costly capital projects and you can avoid expensive building retrofits. Decarbonize your thermal energy footprint by simply connecting to Vicinity’s district energy network.
  • Certifications – Gain potential points for LEED® and ENERGY STAR® certifications to demonstrate your buildings’ commitment to sustainability.

Customers benefit from carbon-free eSteam™ generated with renewable electricity.

How eSteam™ works

By installing electric boilers at our central facilities and procuring renewable power from the grid, we can offer carbon-free steam to meet your buildings’ thermal energy needs. Vicinity can purchase renewable power on your behalf—such as wind, solar and hydro—at transmission level rates, allowing us to keep your costs down.

Coupled with other technologies like industrial-scale heat pumps and thermal storage, our goal is to offer you the most affordable, flexible thermal energy product that lowers carbon footprints, improves air quality and meets sustainability goals.

Vicinity’s eSteam™ is the first renewable, carbon-free thermal energy product in the United States, offering you maximum flexibility and superior environmental benefits.

Lock in with eSteam™ today to decarbonize your buildings and avoid looming carbon fees. To learn more about eSteam™ email our energy experts at info@vicinityenergy.us.

2023 Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Visionary Awards

Vicinity Energy has been recognized by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce for its commitment to innovation in the launch of eSteam™, the first renewable, carbon-free thermal energy product in the United States. Vicinity and IQHQ team members talk about the impact eSteam™ is making in Boston and Cambridge in this video highlighting Visionary award winners.

District energy in a climate-uncertain future

With climate change and its clear and present danger upon us, communities must act to embrace resilient energy infrastructure and prepare for a future in a very uncertain climate. Extreme weather events, like the unprecedented cold weather in the midwestern and southern regions of the United States in February 2021, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, have devastated people living in these areas, presented major challenges to the nation’s energy systems, and driven resilience to the forefront of national conversation – not to mention the extensive financial response required to recover from these events.

While pursuing new energy technologies and solutions is critical to our eventual success as a society, we must balance this future-looking approach with an emphasis on strengthening existing infrastructure and cost-effectively protecting citizens and current energy networks. District energy is a proven energy delivery framework that is resilient, affordable, scalable, and already utilized by grids across the country. With underground carbon steel pipes, insulated and encased in concrete, and fed by central energy facilities, district energy is, by its very construction, extremely resilient. It has the added benefit of enabling a rapid shift to renewable sources and other green energy approaches. Based on these key attributes, district energy is a key component of the solution to our climate-uncertain challenges.

What we’re up against

Since the 1980s, there has been a significant increase in the number and severity of U.S. power outages due to extreme weather. February’s unprecedented winter outages in Texas are just the latest example. Millions of Texans were without power or heat when about half of Texas’s electricity generation was offline. As a result, fuel supplies were slowed by frozen natural gas lines, some towns had to turn off their water supply, and carbon-monoxide exposure skyrocketed when many Texans turned to home generators to keep the heat and lights on. Last year was a record-setting one for wildfires, with over 10 million acres burned nationwide, leading to $20 billion in costs and damages. A decade ago, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy left much of New York City without electricity for days, in addition to causing flooding that shut down power plants and fuel refineries. 117 people were killed, and 8.5 million Americans were without power.

In addition to severe disruptions of everyday life and threats to the health and welfare of residents, these events are costing Americans dearly. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate disasters have cost the United States over $1.875 trillion since 1980. The United States cannot afford to continue to operate such vulnerable utility infrastructure, especially as the situation continues to escalate. Americans are paying in tax dollars, and – more importantly – in lives, every moment that goes by without the prioritization of resilience in our nation’s energy infrastructure.

Many communities have already officially recognized the need to put energy resilience at the very center of civic planning. For example, in 2020, Maryland launched the Resilient Maryland Program to fund innovation around energy resilience and distributed energy resources. The Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance has a specific resilience program in place to protect key infrastructure from the effects of climate change. And last fall, the city of Philadelphia hired its first Chief Resilience Officer; someone whose entire mission is to ensure that the city’s resources can withstand the impacts of climate change.

How district energy models resilience now

While acknowledging the problem is certainly the key first step of progress, and research toward future improvements is more than necessary, what can communities do right now to protect citizens from the climate disasters that are sure to come at an increasing rate? One solution is district energy.

District energy uses a centrally located facility to generate thermal energy – heat, hot water, or chilled water – for a number of nearby buildings that form an “energy district.” Microgrids, such as can be found at colleges, hospitals, airports, and office parks, are examples of district energy arrangements. District energy offers multiple benefits to its users, including freedom from asset ownership and maintenance and corresponding costs, and price stability. Most important to this issue, however, is that district energy provides energy islanding capabilities that offer far greater resilience than broader-reaching conventional utilities.

For example, during Hurricane Sandy, Princeton University relied on its own microgrid, allowing the university to maintain power and resources while the rest of the city was offline. In fact, Princeton was able to offer emergency workers and the general public a place to warm up, charge their phones, and access the internet, since they were not reliant upon the town’s non-functioning energy supply.

How is district energy so resilient? One major factor is that the generation facilities are often located in urban centers, within or nearby to the grids they serve, as opposed to energy needing to be transported over hundreds of miles from a major power plant. These microgrids can then operate autonomously, even if those around them are without resources.

In addition to proximity, many district energy systems are able to ‘blackstart’ – that is, they can restore operations independently without relying on an external source to recover from a shutdown. Because of this ability to island and blackstart, some district energy systems have upwards of 99.99% reliability, making them desirable infrastructure in an increasingly climate-uncertain world. In fact, many major American military facilities, including Fort Bragg and Andrews Air Force Base, operate on district energy systems due to its superior energy resilience and security.

How district energy can contribute to a greener future

In addition to helping protect communities from devastating climate events right now, district energy can help pave the way to a greener future, in which global warming is addressed and the effects of climate change limited, to help reduce the number of climate-related disasters to begin with. Here are some key ways district energy helps reduce carbon footprints:

  • Reduces primary energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 50%
  • Many district systems integrate Combined Heat and Power (CHP), which has an average efficiency of 75%, compared to 50% for traditional generation methods (significantly offsetting carbon emissions that would have been emitted through conventional means)
  • A diversity of buildings (such as commercial buildings with daytime use and residential buildings with more evening use) in a district can lead to waste energy sharing and load balancing
  • Central district energy facilities can be easily electrified. Once switched over to new renewable fuel sources and/or technologies, all buildings that are part of the district system will benefit from the carbon footprint reduction instantly, since they are all connected to the same generation facility

Fortunately, the world is catching on to these benefits. The United Nations launched the District Energy in Cities initiative to encourage urban centers to take advantage of the greening power of district energy to help reduce cities’ carbon footprints and thus their contributions to climate change. Campuses, hospitals, and research facilities around the country are already relying on district energy to both meet current energy security needs and to do their part in working toward a greener future.

It’s not always the case that the technology that can help us stay safe now is the same technology that can help us move systemically in the right direction. In the face of a danger as pressing and dire as climate change, we’re fortunate to have that present and future solution in district energy.

What is district energy?

How district energy is helping commercial buildings and local communities

District energy uses local resources to tackle broad, global energy and environmental challenges. But what is it, exactly?

District energy uses a centrally located facility, or facilities, to generate thermal energy – heat, hot water or chilled water – for a number of nearby buildings that in effect form an “energy district.” These resources are transported through underground pipes to meet the needs of communities, cities, or campuses – such as colleges, hospitals, airports, or office parks. This provides multiple advantages:

  • Freedom from asset ownership and maintenance, including the costs associated with this
  • Energy pricing stability and cost effectiveness
  • More efficient energy delivery
  • Greater reliability and redundancy in energy supply
  • Reduced carbon footprint

The International District Energy Association created this great short video that provides a solid introduction to how and why district energy works so well:

Although district energy has an impressive history (did you know it was originally used to heat the baths of Ancient Rome?), it’s also a constantly evolving technology that uses innovative techniques, fuel sources and infrastructure to provide more efficient, resilient, and environmentally responsible energy than conventional generation sources. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, district energy systems “typically reduce primary energy demand in heating and cooling by 50%,” and can achieve operational efficiency of up to 90%.

District energy is cost-effective

So, is district heating better than onsite energy generation?

There’s a common misconception that onsite energy generation is cheaper than connecting to a district energy network. This faulty conclusion usually arises when the start-up costs of generating energy onsite and the ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) expenses associated with onsite infrastructure are not considered.

Because district energy customers receive a finished thermal product, they don’t need to pay the millions in upfront capital costs for installation of chillers and/or boilers or the ongoing costs to maintain their own equipment. Onsite heating and cooling infrastructure can represent one of the largest startup costs for a new building and are repeat offenders when it comes to breakdowns that require pricey repairs. It’s important to conduct a lifecycle economic comparison between district energy and onsite generation when comparing the two.

By evaluating variable energy costs, recurring fixed operating costs and upfront capital costs, oftentimes, district energy is the optimal economic solution.

District energy also takes up much less space in a building than onsite generation would. On average, district energy connection infrastructure requires about the same amount of space as a parking spot, which means buildings can make smart, economic use of all the space they would have needed to dedicate to boilers, water towers, cooling systems, thermal storage, and more.

District energy is reliable

One thing that makes it so reliable is that district energy systems have built-in redundancy within its central plants and networks, meaning they can leverage multiple generating assets and fuel, power and water sources. If a piece of equipment or utility source is compromised or experiencing any issues, the system can continue to operate by drawing from its back-up sources and infrastructure. Compare that to what happens to a building’s operations if an issue occurs with an onsite boiler – no heat or hot water until it’s fixed. In fact, a building’s district energy service could eliminate the need for onsite N+1 redundancy.

As global climate and weather conditions become more extreme, the ability to ensure reliable energy even during severe conditions is a growing concern. Because many district energy grids can black-start (meaning they can restart without the aid of external electrical transmission) and can use a range of fuel sources, such systems can maintain a high level of energy uptime even during extreme weather events.

District energy is more reliable in terms of its components and delivery too. 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.

District energy is sustainable

With climate change in full force, every decision we make plays a critical role in healing the planet and minimizing our negative impact on the environment.

Energy production is responsible for a substantial portion of the greenhouse gases that trap the sun’s heat within the earth’s atmosphere. Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas stand out as the most predominant culprits for climate change, as they are responsible for over 75 percent of global greenhouse emissions and 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. These numbers paint an urgent picture: everyone must play their part in cutting emissions in half by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Despite these concerns, a clean energy future is well within reach. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that around 90 percent of all decarbonization solutions in 2050 will involve harnessing green energy from renewable sources to improve energy efficiency and supply innovative electrification technologies.

By centralizing and aggregating the production of heat, hot and chilled water to multiple buildings, district energy cuts down on the amount of fuel that would be required by individual buildings using onsite generation, and the resulting carbon emissions. Furthermore, it allows for faster, more complete transitions to clean energy sources as they become available: district energy systems can employ renewable energy sources, like biofuels, wind, solar, and hydro, to produce carbon-free steam and maximize energy efficiency.

District systems and infrastructure can easily be updated to integrate new technologies and/or renewable fuels that benefit a great number of buildings in a geographic footprint. This allows for carbon footprint reductions at a scale that would be impossible to achieve on an individual basis.

As an example, Vicinity Energy delivers thermal energy to over 100 million square feet of space throughout Philadelphia. As the central plant in the district adopts cleaner, green energy approaches, the ripple effect is massive! For example, combined heat and power (CHP) is one technology that Vicinity has employed in several of its districts, including Philadelphia, to provide sustainable, efficient thermal energy to its customers.

Vicinity has also implemented the use of biogenic fuels in our operations. Otherwise wasted vegetable oil from restaurants is then collected and can be burned in our district energy systems as-is, resulting in huge energy and carbon savings. Other technologies include waste-to-energy, geothermal, and other sustainable distributed energy resources.

Check out what Vicinity Energy CEO Bill DiCroce had to say about biofuels and the next steps required to put them into action across district energy grids:

Bringing it all together, locally and globally

This shift to more efficient renewable fuels and the impacts that only district energy can achieve at such a large scale has brought considerable carbon reductions here in the US and the world over. For example, the city of Anshan in China is projected to reduce its use of coal, a heavy pollutant, by 1.2 million tons each year by combining separate networks into a district, and simultaneously capturing 1 gigawatt of heat wasted by a city steel plant.

Another example is Paris, which has utilized district energy for years to combat air pollution. Today, 50 percent of Paris’s social housing, all of its hospitals, and 50 percent of its public buildings are supplied by district energy. That’s the heat-demand equivalent of 500,000 households! Or look at London, which has a number of district heating projects underway, including the Lee Valley Heat Network, which will provide heat and hot water to over 5,000 homes by capturing waste heat from a nearby EcoPark.

Whether for reasons of price, reliability, efficiency, or to create more sustainable infrastructure for future generations, communities across America and the world are looking locally, joining together, and making a change for the better with district energy.

BNN News Interview with Matt O’Malley Vicinity Energy

In this interview with Boston Neighborhood News Network host Faith Imafidon, Vicinity’s Chief Sustainability Officer Matt O’Malley discusses how eSteam™ is revolutionizing district energy by providing steam with heat pumps and electric boilers, rather than cogeneration or gas boilers.

Vicinity Energy Partners with Baltimore Gas and Electric on Key Infrastructure Investment in Baltimore

Baltimore, February 28, 2023 – Vicinity Energy, a national decarbonization leader with an extensive portfolio of district energy systems across the United States, has been awarded $1 million in incentives through the EmPOWER Maryland program managed by Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) to invest in the significant energy efficiency project that resulted in sustainable upgrades for its district chilled water facilities.

Vicinity invested $2 million to upgrade their district chilled water plants with piping upgrades, variable frequency drives on large motors, improved instrumentation, and sophisticated computer optimization software. This project improved equipment and controls at the Vicinity chilled water system located in Baltimore. Optimum Energy LLC provided the engineering and optimization software that is the heart of the efficiency project.

The upgrade has improved the plant’s overall electrical efficiency by over 20%, saving over 5 million kWh/yr. In addition to the green improvements at the facility, this upgrade increased system reliability and redundancy.

“Vicinity is proud to invest in our existing energy infrastructure today to provide our customers with a more sustainable, resilient option to heat and cool their buildings,” said Mat Ware, Senior Vice President for Vicinity’s South region, including Baltimore. “While we work to decarbonize our systems across the country, driving energy efficiency is critical for the communities we serve.”

Vicinity Energy centrally produces and distributes steam, hot water, and chilled water to over 30 million square feet of building space in Baltimore. More than half of the steam delivered to Baltimore customers is generated through zero carbon, non-fossil fuel-based renewables, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 30,000 tons annually, or the equivalent of removing about 11,000 cars from Baltimore’s roads. The company also recently announced the purchase of 100% carbon-free electricity to run its Baltimore heating and cooling operations, eliminating up to 80% of greenhouse gas emissions from cooling operations and 90% of emissions from the electricity used for heating operations.

“We are proud to support Vicinity through Maryland’s EmPOWER Maryland program and support their focus on energy efficiency, which helps to power a cleaner and brighter future for our customers,” said Alexander Núñez, BGE’s senior vice president of governmental, regulatory, and external affairs. “By partnering with forward-thinking companies like Vicinity we are able to bring the State of Maryland closer to its decarbonization goals. This sizable investment from Vicinity shows what we can accomplish when we work together and highlights the power of the EmPOWER Maryland program, which has helped customers reduce their average electric use by 19% since the program began in 2008.

This announcement comes on the heels of recent developments by Vicinity Energy to decarbonize its district energy systems across the country. Vicinity is on track to fully electrify its steam generation in Boston and Cambridge and introduce innovative technological advancements into its operations, including electric boilers, industrial-scale heat pumps, and molten salt thermal energy storage.

In 2022, the company kicked off its electrification plans by deconstructing a steam turbine at its Kendall Facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An electric boiler will be installed in its place, and will begin supplying eSteam™ to customers in 2024. The company’s other locations across the country will undergo similar electrification processes in the coming years.

About Vicinity Energy

Vicinity Energy is a clean energy company that owns and operates an extensive portfolio of district energy systems across the United States. Vicinity produces and distributes reliable, clean steam, hot water, and chilled water to over 250 million square feet of building space nationwide. Vicinity continuously invests in its infrastructure and the latest technologies to accelerate the decarbonization of commercial and institutional buildings in city centers. Vicinity is committed to achieving net zero carbon across its portfolio by 2050. To learn more, visit https://www.vicinityenergy.us or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Media Contact

Vicinity Energy
Sara DeMille
Marketing and Communications
857-955-5073
sara.demille@vicinityenergy.us

Vicinity Energy Announces Partnership with IQHQ to Power Fully Carbon-Neutral Development in Fenway

Boston, February 8, 2023- Vicinity Energy, a national decarbonization leader with an extensive portfolio of district energy systems across the United States, announced a long-term partnership with IQHQ, Inc., a premier life sciences real estate development company focused on leadership in sustainability. Vicinity will provide eSteam™, its new carbon-free, renewable thermal energy offering to IQHQ to rapidly decarbonize IQHQ’s developments in the Fenway neighborhood district.

Under the agreement, IQHQ’s development at 109 Brookline Avenue will use 100% eSteam™ for heating—making it one of Boston’s first entirely carbon-neutral buildings. The 305,000-square-foot office and laboratory space is part of IQHQ’s FWD district, a growing life science cluster connecting Kenmore Square with the Longwood Medical Academic Area.

IQHQ is also pursuing eSteam™ at its Fenway Center development, a mixed-use, transit-oriented life science campus located at the western gateway to Boston. Fenway Center will include nearly 1 million square feet of commercial office and lab space built over the Mass Pike, and will become the anchor of IQHQ’s FWD district.

Vicinity will begin delivering carbon-free eSteam™ in 2024.

“At IQHQ, we have a commitment to developing class-A life science districts that provide our tenant, visitors, and communities at large with healthy, resilient, and responsible spaces,” said Jenny Whitson, Director, Sustainability & ESG for IQHQ. “We are excited to partner with Vicinity Energy to decarbonize the steam serving our projects.”

Vicinity’s expansion into Boston’s Fenway neighborhood marks a significant milestone in Vicinity’s Clean Energy Future plans, and paves the way for more building owners and property managers to leverage eSteam™ for rapid building decarbonization to combat climate change and meet sustainability goals.

Vicinity is the first district energy company in the U.S. to commit to fully decarbonizing its operations, offering renewable thermal energy by installing electric boilers, industrial-scale heat pumps, and thermal storage at its central facilities starting in Boston and Cambridge, with its other districts to follow. eSteam™ is the nation’s first 100% carbon-free renewable energy product, providing a one-stop-shop for Greater Boston businesses and institutions grappling with enforceable emissions performance standards and cities tackling the highest source of emissions.

“We are proud to partner with IQHQ as our first carbon-free eSteam™ customer to reduce their buildings’ carbon emissions and enable IQHQ to achieve their ESG goals while complying with the city’s BERDO 2.0 regulations,” said Bill DiCroce, president and chief executive officer of Vicinity Energy. “This eSteam partnership not only signifies our commitment to a clean energy future, but it also demonstrates the commitment from progressive, innovative industry leaders, like IQHQ, who are committed to lower carbon emissions and to combat climate change.”

Click here to read more about Vicinity’s district energy systems and its commitment to innovation and the environment.

About IQHQ
IQHQ is giving progress a home, empowering the life science community to thrive and succeed by creating and developing districts that inspire innovation and drive progress and growth. IQHQ’s focus is to acquire, develop, and operate sustainable transformational life science districts in the innovation hubs of San Francisco, San Diego, and Boston in the United States, and the United Kingdom. IQHQ has offices in San Diego, Boston and the UK. To learn more, visit iqhqreit.com or follow us on Linkedin or Instagram.

About Vicinity Energy

Vicinity Energy is a clean energy company that owns and operates an extensive portfolio of district energy systems across the United States. Vicinity produces and distributes reliable, clean steam, hot water, and chilled water to over 250 million square feet of building space nationwide. Vicinity continuously invests in its infrastructure and the latest technologies to accelerate the decarbonization of commercial and institutional buildings in city centers. Vicinity is committed to achieving net zero carbon across its portfolio by 2050. To learn more, visit https://www.vicinityenergy.us or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Media Contact

Vicinity Energy
Sara DeMille
Marketing and Communications
857-955-5073
sara.demille@vicinityenergy.us

 

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu Kicks off Vicinity Energy’s electrification plans

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu helped kick off our electrification plans with the deconstruction of the steam turbine at our Kendall Green Energy Facility, paving the way for the installation of our new 42 MW electric boiler.

This monumental step forward accelerates our efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions and offer carbon-free eSteam™ to our Boston and Cambridge customers.

Mayor Wu Kicks off Vicinity Energy’s Electrification Plans

Cambridge, November 17, 2022 – Vicinity Energy, a decarbonization leader with the nation’s largest portfolio of district energy systems, serving over 70 million square feet of building space across Boston and Cambridge, has officially kicked off its electrification plans with the deconstruction of a steam turbine at the Kendall Green Energy Cogeneration Facility. Vicinity will install an electric boiler in its place, marking a critical step in the company’s Clean Energy Future commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions across all its operations by 2050.

Boston’s Mayor Michelle Wu commemorated the day at Vicinity’s Kendall facility. Marking a crucial step toward a clean energy future for Boston and Cambridge, the deconstruction aligns with the Mayor’s latest move to file a home rule petition to ban the use of fossil fuels for new buildings in Boston.

“It is remarkable to be able to say that Vicinity is the first energy company in the country to electrify its operations. That is a huge deal and one that will have ramifications for generations to come. For every gigantic natural gas boiler that’s going to be decommissioned, for every new building that will use eSteam™, those are jobs created right here for our residents and our communities,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “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. 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.”

“With the installation of this electric boiler, we are enabling a seamless conversion to carbon-free eSteam™ for our customers, including innovative commercial building owners and developers like IQHQ,” said Bill DiCroce, president and chief executive officer of Vicinity Energy. “This is game-changing for our communities and a prime example of what happens when government, the business community, and the energy sector work together and embrace the region’s Green New Deal.”

The electric boiler will enter service in 2024. At that time, the company will procure electricity from renewable, carbon-free energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro to generate eSteam™, the first-ever carbon-free renewable energy product. IQHQ will be Vicinity’s first customer to power the rapid decarbonization of its buildings in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood: 109 Brookline and Fenway Center Phase 2 with carbon-free eSteam™.

“Today, we are excited to be celebrating the installation of the electric boiler,” said Jenny Whitson, director of sustainability & ESG at IQHQ. “By Vicinity taking this step to offer developers like us the opportunity to source electric steam generated by renewable energy, we are able to achieve our climate goals and carbon emission reduction targets for our projects.”

Over the years, Vicinity has evolved as new, cleaner fuel sources have become commercially available. The company’s predecessors burned coal to generate steam before migrating to oil, natural gas, and combined heat and power (CHP). Because district energy systems are agnostic to fuel type, they can quickly implement these new, more sustainable technologies and fuel sources. Electrification is the next crucial step to decarbonize Boston and Cambridge at scale and ensure both municipalities meet their new energy standards and emission mandates.

The Kendall Green Energy Cogeneration Facility simultaneously produces thermal energy and electricity in one efficient process to serve approximately 75% of Vicinity’s customers throughout the region. When the electric boilers begin service, all of these facilities will have access to carbon-free, renewable energy at once.

“Here in Kendall Square, a place known for global innovation, we are proud of Vicinity’s contribution to urban decarbonization with eSteam,” said Beth O’Neill Maloney, executive director at the Kendall Square Association. “Vicinity’s electrification plans will help contribute to the decarbonization of Cambridge and Boston without building-level changes. Vicinity is a global sustainability leader, charting a new path forward for district energy.”

Vicinity is on track to fully electrify its steam generation in Boston and Cambridge and introduce other technological advancements into its operations, including industrial-scale heat pumps and molten salt thermal energy storage. The company’s other locations across the country will undergo similar electrification processes in the coming years.

Click here to read more about eSteam™, district energy systems, and Vicinity’s commitment to innovation and the environment.

About Vicinity Energy

Vicinity Energy is a clean energy company that owns and operates an extensive portfolio of district energy systems across the United States. Vicinity produces and distributes reliable, clean steam, hot water, and chilled water to over 230 million square feet of building space nationwide. Vicinity continuously invests in its infrastructure and the latest technologies to accelerate the decarbonization of commercial and institutional buildings in city centers. Vicinity is committed to achieving net zero carbon across its portfolio by 2050. To learn more, visit https://www.vicinityenergy.us or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Media Contact

Vicinity Energy
Sara DeMille
Marketing and Communications
857-955-5073
sara.demille@vicinityenergy.us

A pivotal chance for Philadelphia’s climate future

One year ago, the Schuylkill River had just normalized after rising to catastrophic levels following Hurricane Ida. The ensuing floods that swallowed up the Vine Street Expressway, ruined homes, and businesses, and took multiple lives, provided a potent reminder that Philadelphia, nestled between two rivers, is uniquely susceptible to the impacts of extreme weather resulting from climate change.

If nothing else, a look back at the historic flooding should serve as a reminder of the need to advance prescriptive policies at the local level that curtail the negative effects of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect Philadelphia’s health and infrastructure. The recent Supreme Court decision undermining the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions on a national level amplifies the need for cities like Philadelphia to take charge of their climate futures.

Thankfully, Philadelphia has a policy road map in place. In 2021, Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council made a “net zero” pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It’s an ambitious goal that’s drawn support in other cities such as Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Coinciding with the pledge, the city also released a draft of its Climate Action Playbook — a blueprint of data-driven recommendations and expertise to suggest ways to reduce climate change’s impacts through an equitable and inclusive lens.

During Climate Week NYC 2022 and Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh, we want to spotlight Philadelphia and cities around the world that are at an inflection point for environmental progress. While municipalities need to look forward to innovations and policies, there are also existing programs and technologies that could be better harnessed by individuals and embraced by local governments to make a significant difference in achieving our climate goals.

For example, on a small scale, look at how electric cargo bikes are increasingly diminishing the environmental impact of urban deliveries. The British advocacy group Possible put out a study last year that found electric cargo bikes reduced emissions by 90 percent compared to diesel vans and by one-third compared to electric vans. Plus, the bikes were more efficient from a delivery standpoint, making more than 50 percent more deliveries than vans.

Although car emissions get a lot of publicity, building emissions are a bigger culprit. According to Climate Action Playbook, the buildings of Philadelphia emit a whopping 75 percent of the city’s total carbon footprint—triple the total emissions from all modes of transportation.

What cargo bikes are doing for deliveries, Vicinity is doing for building emissions. In April, we announced the launch of eSteam™. It’s a technology specifically designed to rapidly decarbonize this critical area of climate change. We will offer renewable thermal energy by installing electric boilers instead of the traditional gas-burning variety and industrial-scale heat pumps and thermal storage at our central facilities to provide sustainable and reliable service. Although eSteam™ will first be available in Boston and Cambridge, Philly will soon follow.

Investing in renewable energy sources will serve to increase energy stability and reliability in the face of recent climate and fossil fuel-related emergencies. At this week’s climate event in NYC, leaders noted that renewables would ensure resilience and security beyond driving economic growth.

We are committed to using innovative technology to upgrade how we create steam to serve downtown Philadelphia. We’ve already begun scoping and designing our systems for decarbonization. We are beyond excited with the overwhelmingly positive response to our plan among advocates, policymakers, and customers.

Simply put, Philadelphia is on track to become the largest decarbonized district energy system in the U.S.

At Vicinity Energy, we constantly look at what leaders are doing worldwide for inspiration and guidance on combatting climate change. Similar thermal energy systems surpass their climate goals in places like Copenhagen, and we need to do more in Philadelphia. Vicinity is innovating, implementing, and solving decarbonization challenges, “Getting It Done” with district energy.