Pittsburgh’s focus on energy districts is based on the increasing global recognition of the value that district-scale energy systems can bring. Designing systems around the energy needs of a neighborhood or city allows developers to take advantage of local resources, infrastructure, and other regional features. While these systems may require more up-front engineering, they are highly efficient and often more cost-effective than traditional technologies.
Pittsburgh has several existing district energy systems in which a central facility generates steam, hot water, and/or chilled water that is then piped to residential or commercial consumers, just as a utility would provide water or natural gas. These “energy districts” are currently independent, run by different entities, and have diverse characteristics. NETL’s vision is to have a system of interconnected energy districts that work together to provide the City with clean energy in a cost-effective way.