Boston’s District Energy Network Gains New ‘Green’ Steam

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A recently completed revitalization of an extensive district energy network in Boston, including a brand new pipeline extension, has begun delivering steam to connected facilities. Veolia North America, a global operator and developer of efficient energy solutions, built the new  7,000-foot pipeline to export more “green steam” to Boston from Kendall Station, a 256-megawatt gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Cambridge. The network, which will deliver steam to be used for both heating and cooling purposes, serves several of the areas major hospitals, biotech R&D facilities, 12 of Boston’s high-rise buildings, colleges and universities, and iconic infrastructure such as the New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, the Holocaust Memorial and the Prudential Building.

The company’s $112 million investment into the Boston-Cambridge energy infrastructure has already started to reduce the region’s carbon footprint by 475,000 tons annually – the equivalent of removing 80,000 cars annually from the road and is directly responsible for nearly 6 percent reduction of non-transportation carbon emissions for both cities.

The environmental impact on the Charles River ecosystem has also been minimized by the project through its ability to eliminate the thermal pollution, essentially decreasing the temperature of the cooling water returned to the river and thereby protecting the marine inhabitants of this precious natural resource.  

“The City of Boston has been making great strides in creating a green city, which is possible through the dedication and help of Boston’s residents, businesses, and institutions,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.  “Veolia has been a strong and loyal partner with the City and the completion of this project marks an important step forward in attaining our Greenovate Boston goal of reducing Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.”

According to the company, the new steam pipeline connection (and planned reconfiguration of Kendall Station) supports Boston’s sustainable development goals. Specifically it:

  • Created green jobs: The project supported 147,500 man hours (welders, pipe fitters, insulators) that resulted in $21 million in labor costs.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 475,000 tons annually, the equivalent of removing 80,000 cars from the roads.
  • Represents a $112 million investment by Veolia and its partners into improving the Boston-Cambridge system; Veolia’s total investment is $168 million since 2008.
  • Eliminates thermal pollution from the Charles River ecosystem, decreasing the temperature of the river and thereby protecting the marine inhabitants of this precious natural resource.
  • Improves air quality: By utilizing cleaner burning, domestically available fuel sources and taking into account Veolia’s infrastructure improvements and cogeneration assets, Veolia has reduced its NOx and SO2 emissions by approximately 36 percent and 61 percent, respectively.

The infrastructure improvements also support sustainable development in Boston and Cambridge by increasing the LEED ratings of buildings that tie into the system.

“The Boston-Cambridge ‘Green Steam’ connection is an innovative environmental solution that benefits the environment and the economy.  Only a handful of cities in the U.S. have the unique opportunity to implement this type of solution combining existing district energy piping networks with innovative combined heat and power technology,” said Bill DiCroce, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Veolia North America’s Municipal and Commercial Business.

“A project such as this one combines the best of public support with private investment for one common cause – a more sustainable community. Today, we recognize the leadership of individual community members, local and state government, regulatory agencies and environmental conservancy organizations in support of these investments and the sustainable development of Boston and Cambridge.”

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