Kneeland 036-crop2The 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.

District energy is the production and distribution of energy that’s produced at a central plant and distributed to the community through an underground piping network, which helps reduce costs while improving redundancy and reliability. These systems are the foundation of the energy policy in countries such as Denmark and are increasingly being adopted by countries such as China. In North America, cities such as Philadelphia use district energy systems to deliver “green steam.

The UNEP program, along with its flagship report, District Energy in Cities, was announced at the 2015 IDEA conference in Boston. During the announcement, Boston committed itself as a district energy “champion city,” joined by partners like Veolia (we provide district energy to Boston), Ever-Green Energy and Johnson Controls.

In its report, the UNEP warns that eliminating poverty and social inequality requires a move to sustainable energy, as does the fight against climate change, raising the stakes for the adoption of district energy systems. The report is one of the first to provide concrete policy recommendations for addressing this transition to sustainable energy, and was developed in collaboration with 45 cities using district energy systems.

The full report is available here. A short animation of the district energy process for green steam is below:


Thanks for your interest in the sustainability of district energy systems, viewed by the UNEP as important in the fight against poverty and social inequality. We're happy to answer any questions you have.

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