Thermal planning: what can campuses teach us about expanding district energy?
Campus district energy (DE) systems present opportunities to reduce energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, manage peak loads, and increase the share of renewable energy. We investigate the opportunities and barriers to expanding campus DE systems off-campus through surveys and interviews with 18 campus DE managers and providers, and a case study modeling heat demand near campus. The impact of DEs on buildings’ energy consumption reductions are estimated at around 33%. Expanding the campus DE systems to nearby buildings may yield similar energy efficiency gains off-campus. However, about half the survey respondents do not see off-campus DE expansions as currently possible. Barriers to extension include high infrastructure installation costs, stringent utility regulations, insufficient financial and institutional incentives, and individualistic mentalities whereby building owners prefer to control their energy systems.