Last week, Saint Paul had the great honor of hosting the International District Energy Association (IDEA) Annual Conference. The conference has a wide reach, attracting over 800 attendees from 19 different countries, 42 states, and 246 cities to discuss the future of our energy systems. This year’s theme was Embracing Change, which we know is an important aspect of preparing our systems and our personnel for the immense change facing the energy and utility industries. What was clear by the end of the conference is that we all need to be working together to create, lead, and manage change. Between our partners in business, academia, government, science and engineering, utilities, environmental fields, and the community, we can and should be all working together to implement the solutions being made available, and collaborating to make the energy systems serving our communities more efficient, resilient, and sustainable.
As the service provider to District Energy St. Paul, it was incredibly exciting to have so many people experience our facilities and our Saint Paul EcoDistrict and to share what is emerging in our work outside of Saint Paul. The City of Saint Paul has so much to be proud of, which was illustrated by the Champion City Recognition from the United Nations Environment Programme! Local photographer Mike Krivit captured great images from our tours.
This year, we also took on a special initiative by inviting regional higher education students to join us for the conference, with IDEA generously hosting 20 students to participate. In addition to the conference, we hosted a special student networking event, introducing them to some of our best and brightest in policy, engineering, architecture, and business. The students were bright and ambitious and it was exciting to hear their interpretation of where our industry goes next. Ever-Green knows that our people will always be the most essential aspect of our business. Seeing this next generation of talent and leadership increases my optimism about our future.
We also opened our doors during the conference to local teachers, community members, and others looking to learn more about Minnesota and international perspectives on energy. We were pleased to welcome Commissioner Shawntera Hardy (Minnesota Department of Economic Development), Jakob Bjerregaard (Danish Embassy), Werner R. Lutsch (The Energy Efficiency Association – Germany), and Dr. Massoud Amin (University of Minnesota) as part of an incredible panel sharing emerging trends in energy.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who made this conference such an amazing experience. The entire IDEA team goes above and beyond to put together world-class programs, workshops, tours, and networking experiences for our membership and guests. We got to see their work behind the scenes first-hand this year and greatly appreciate every effort. We are grateful for our exhibitors, speakers, and moderators for bringing their ideas and innovation to share. And to the generous sponsors who make all of this possible.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the City of Saint Paul, Visit Saint Paul, the team at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, the InterContinental and DoubleTree, and all of the amazing people in our hometown who helped make this conference a one-of-a-kind success. Thank you for all you do to support our growing business as it strives to do the small things right and big things that matter. I think we all made one week in June pretty tremendous.