Energy Efficiency
Use District Energy Steam

What Is It?

District Energy is produced in one central plant where electricity, steam for heating, and chilled water for air conditioning are all generated and then distributed to the district. Since electricity is produced at the same location as steam, steam can be produced much more efficiently with the thermal waste from electricity production (known as cogeneration). As a result, using district energy steam can help a facility reduce its carbon footprint. Standard power plants convert approximately 40 to 50 percent of the fuel input to energy while district energy/combined heat and power are about twice as efficient, converting approximately 80 percent of the fuel input to energy.


Individual buildings using district energy systems can reduce their capital costs because they do not need their own boilers or furnaces, chillers, or air conditioners. Some other benefits of using district energy steam include:

  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Ease of operation and maintenance
  • Decreased life-cycle costs
  • Decreased building capital costs
  • Improved architectural design flexibility

Read more about the benefits of district energy steam.

Challenge Participants Currently Adopting This Practice

  • Beacon Capital Partners
  • Boston Properties, Inc.
  • CB Richard Ellis
  • Dana-Farber
  • Equity
  • Federal Reserve
  • John Hancock
  • Marriott
  • Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
  • New England Aquarium
  • Sheraton Boston Hotel

Financing Options, Incentives, And Rebates

Additional Resources

Examples of Buildings Using District Energy Steam in the Boston Area:

A Small Sample of Some Suppliers and Providers in Boston


In The News

“Boston: A Model for the Emerging Distributed Energy Paradigm” IDEA, May 2015
“Veolia Formally Dedicates $112M Boston-Cambridge ‘Green Steam’ Project” IDEA, May 2014