District energy (DE) systems produce low pressure steam, hot water, and/or chilled water for use in multiple buildings in a central location. Research has shown that DE systems have the potential to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions and energy consumption. This is accomplished by utilizing energy sources that reduce net carbon emissions to the environment, such as biomass fuels, and replacing heating and cooling equipment in
individual buildings with higher efficiency equipment at a central location.
At the University of Idaho a DE system is coupled with a TES to provide both heating and cooling needs for campus. A biomass fed boiler supplies over 260 million lbs of steam annually. An absorption chiller allows
UI to produce chilled water for the TES utilizing the steam produced as opposed to more expensive electric chillers. Currently, we have been working to develop technological and operational improvements within the
UI district energy plant to increase the efficient use of our energy resources, which in turn result in increased sustainability and financial benefits.