Formation of District Energy Academy
Winter 2015 • Portland, Oregon
Ecodistricts, an educational and mentoring organization that works with city teams to advance a variety of ecological and sustainability priorities, is launching a distributed energy academy as part of its larger suite of programs.
District energy businesses would be developed within the context of the ecodistrict, a scale that is larger than a neighborhood but smaller than a city. The ecodistrict is proving to be an effective vehicle for the integration of new urban initiatives in energy, transportation, and building design. Dozens of cities have now sent teams to the annual Ecodistricts Summit and the Ecodistricts Incubator, where cities start to turn project ideas into action plans.
The request for a district energy academy has come from city participants, many of which realize that it is an effective model to advance the adoption of renewable energies, and over time put services now provided by distant utility companies under more direct control by the communities themselves. District energy initiatives come in different public and private forms, but the overall objective is to give local communities greater flexibility in the mix of energies they use, and to bundle services like heat and electricity to their customers. There are several hundred district energy businesses around the country, a number of which have existed for several decades, but they have been the exceptions rather than the norm.
Blackstone Ranch Institute is providing the initial grant to launch the academy.