Hundreds of fish, anemones, kelp plants, puffins and a giant Pacific octopus all like their water cold – within a few degrees of 37 Fahrenheit – and they thrive best when the temperature doesn't fluctuate.
The National Aquarium conserves and protects these aquatic animals through educational programs and beautifully restored habitats. In these habitats, they regulate air and water temperature using 1,250 tons of chilled water pumped in by Veolia at a precise 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Reliability is critical, because these aquatic animals and plants rely on the regulated air and water to stay alive.
Baltimore's National Aquarium is home to nearly 20,000 aquatic animals
Veolia solves this problem with an age-old technology: ice storage.
A circuit of underground pipes, nearly 10 miles long, connects the Aquarium with Veolia’s nondescript ice storage tanks in downtown Baltimore. They don’t look like much from the outside, but running through the inside of these tanks are tubes filled with chilled glycol, a fluid that freezes at low temperatures. Ice forms around the tubes, cooling the water inside the tanks.
By cooling the water using off-peak electricity, Veolia reduces demand on the grid and creates a reliable supply of chilled water that protects customers like the National Aquarium against any potential supply constraints or price spikes. Veolia delivers nearly 40 million ton-hours of this low-temperature, chilled water to Baltimore each year, reducing costs by eliminating the upfront capital and maintenance costs incurred using onsite chillers.
Veolia’s unassuming ice storage tanks are hidden beneath Baltimore’s skyline, yet they help preserve the National Aquarium’s important aquatic species. Sometimes the things we don’t see play a role in our environmental health – and save money, too.
If you haven’t heard, Grand Rapids, Michigan is poised to be a leader in urban sustainability. Named a fully recognized 2030 District by Architecture 2030, the city has been lauded for its commitment to sustainable growth. Read More »
Back to the Future Day arrived on October 21, demonstrating which of the movie’s predictions turned out wrong. Remember Mr. Fusion, the personal fusion energy reactor powered by garbage? That certainly didn’t come true. Instead what we get is the UN Environment Program recommending district energy systems – a design older than the Model T – as “the most effective approach” for transitioning to sustainable energy. How did that happen?
Despite the Hollywood hype, it turns out some inventions work really well. One of them is district energy, an idea that dates back to ancient Rome but received its first commercial application in 1877. With a district energy system, thermal energy is produced at a central plant and distributed to the community through an underground piping network, reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Pairing this with a new technology – cogeneration – is a sustainable way to recycle the waste heat generated from electricity production and convert it into useful thermal energy. While a traditional power plant discards its waste heat, wasting valuable energy, a cogeneration solution does two things at once: It produces electricity and can then distribute the excess heat through a district energy system for customers to use.
There are tremendous benefits for customers who sign up for these district energy systems, including a reduction in capital costs, improvements in reliability and reduction in carbon footprints.
Veolia meets the critical energy requirements of downtown Boston/Cambridge this way, supplying environmentally friendly thermal energy known as “Green Steam.” Up to 75 percent of the district energy supply is green steam, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 475,000 tons annually (the equivalent of removing 80,000 cars from the roads), and reducing non-transportation carbon emissions 6 percent for both cities.
District energy is one of the best and cheapest ways for reducing carbon emissions, which is especially relevant during COP21. Not bad for a system of energy distribution that’s been around longer than instant coffee, crossword puzzles and zippers. All of this goes to show that, sometimes, there’s no school quite like the old school.
Thanks for your interest in district energy systems. We are happy to help answer your questions. To help us make sure you get the right answer as fast as possible, please provide some additional information below.
Commercial buildings and industrial facilities in the United States spend $400 billion on energy every year and managing these costs is often complex and time consuming. To help drill down into these costs centers and identify opportunities for efficiencies, sophisticated energy consumers are increasingly leveraging “smart” data management concepts like real-time metering and automated invoice processing.
Veolia’s team of energy experts works with leading organizations to monitor these customers’ energy consumption data in real-time to identify data anomalies, mitigate billing errors, ensure appropriate rates and provide forecasting reports and feedback on energy budgeting. At the core of this solution is EMsys, a web-based software as a service (SaaS) user interface that collects and reports energy information from submeters, building management systems and utility invoices into a central dashboard.
EMsys can integrate complex allocation models to comply with tenant leases, varying tariffs, utility rates and benchmarking ordinances, including integration into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, an online benchmarking tool. The client can open the EMsys dashboard to view hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly historical data for a given site, customer class, or load type and review cost recovery and savings over time.
World class software paired with practical energy engineering expertise
EMsys is completely unique from other energy management platforms in the marketplace in that it was designed and developed alongside utility management professionals with decades of experience solving complex energy, water, and waste challenges.
By pairing this practical experience with leading software tools, clients are able to ensure success across the entire energy management value chain. Veolia’s team of energy analysts and professional engineers actively works together with each of our customers to ensure that the solution is configured to meet the end goal in mind – whether it’s recovering expenses or allocating costs, streamlining invoice payment processes, reducing supplier costs, or actively monitoring usage to identify energy conservation measures.
Veolia manages over $1 billion in annual utility bills for several of the largest facility owners and managers in the United States. EMsys customers include municipalities, universities, hospitals and data centers. One thing they all have in common: They all want to reduce energy costs and increase sustainability for the future.
Thanks for your interest in reducing energy costs with EMSys. To help us make sure you get the right answer as fast as possible, please provide some additional information below.
Winter is coming soon, and homeowners in cold climates are looking at their heating systems to get ready for the cold weather. Furnaces are inspected, ducts and chimneys are cleaned. Prepared homeowners also review their home, searching for exposed entry points, cracked glass or clogged gutters.
Download a list of recommended preventative maintenance tips for steam systems here.
Making regular inspections every winter is also recommended for the steam systems used to heat large locations like highrises, museums and universities. Like a homeowner, plant managers can use winter inspections to maximize the productivity and reliability of the expensive equipment used to heat these structures.
Veolia’s technicians are trained to diagnose and repair any issues to help keep building steam systems operating safely and efficiently. Much like a home inspection, we check for leaks, remove foreign debris and clean. Improperly-maintained equipment can permit large amounts of steam to pass through equipment and even damage the system.
The customers who have leveraged our preventive maintenance program have reduced their operating costs, identified problem areas that could cause system outages, reduced energy use and identified budget for equipment repair or replacement.
Interested homeowners can find a list of 19 easy winterization projects here, with commonsense tips that include:
- Change furnace filters
- Tune-up heating system
- Use an energy monitor
Whether it's for an individual or a steam system, reviewing your preparation for winter is the smart thing to do.
Thanks for your interest in winterizing heating systems. We are happy to help answer your questions. To help us make sure you get the right answer as fast as possible, please provide some additional information below.
Got carbon emissions? President Obama's plan has dramatically reduced carbon emission limits in the recent EPA Clean Power Plan, and set ambitious targets for meeting these limits. Fortunately, there are several tools available today to reduce emissions, including combined heat and power systems (CHP).
In traditional electricity generation, approximately two-thirds of the produced power is immediately lost as waste heat, which is rejected into the environment. But industrial facilities and commercial facilities such as hospitals and universities can use CHP systems to utilize this waste, recycling it into useful thermal energy. This consumes less fuel, increases efficiency by up to 80%, and reduces emissions.
Less fuel is combusted with CHP systems, reducing emissions and air pollutants and also generating cost savings. This acts as a hedge against volatile energy prices, protecting users from buying at peak periods. About 12 percent of the total electricity generated in the U.S. is through CHP systems, which provide layers of redundancy that increase reliability and resilience.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recently highlighted another energy option that can be combined with CHP – district energy systems. District energy systems produce and distribute energy through a central plant and can be combined with CHP systems to further reduce carbon emissions. In its latest report, the UNEP found that adopting modern district energy systems is the “most effective approach” to transitioning to sustainable energy.
The Boston-Cambridge area uses CHP and distributes recaptured thermal energy as "green steam," reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 475,000 tons annually, the equivalent of removing 80,000 cars from the road. The Boston-Cambridge network was recognized as 2015 System of the Year by the International District Energy Association.
CHP is an effective way to reduce emissions. If you have questions about CHP systems, please fill out the form below and we'll get back to you.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recently launched its Global District Energy in Cities initiative, based on the UNEP’s findings that “the most effective approach” to transitioning to sustainable energy is the adoption of modern district energy systems. Read More »
In a conventional economy, processes and material flows are linear, going from cradle to grave - literally, extraction, production and disposal. In the circular economy, consumption patterns are designed to mirror the more cyclical approach of natural ecosystems. Used goods would serve as byproducts that could be reused in other manufacturing processes, creating a virtuous cycle in tune with the environment. Energy would mainly come from renewable sources. Read More »
Few people ever spend time inside a steam plant, and for those who work there, it’s easy to forget that machinery and history can be inspiring. CBSPhilly’s Pat Ciarrochi seized the opportunity to visit a steam plant for the first time when she visited the Veolia facility in Philadelphia's Grays Ferry neighborhood, expressing awe when seeing everything behind those gleaming steel towers visible from the expressway. She walks across catwalks and sees the historical generators, boilers and turbines. Read More »