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Veolia Energy North America spearheads major 'green steam' project

Thanks to Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s ambitious sustainable action plan, Mayor Nutter is committed to making Philadelphia the greenest city in the country by 2015. Thankfully, he has a major partner in Veolia Energy North America, a leading operator and developer of efficient energy solutions with a big local presence. In January, the company completed a multi-million dollar investment in its Philadelphia district energy network, converting it to 100 percent "green steam."

The green steam project will reduce the carbon footprint of Philadelphia by 70,000 metric tons each year. When combined with the company's other green initiatives, that number jumps to 430,000 -- or the equivalent of removing 70,000 cars from the streets annually.

According to Veolia's Elinor Haider, that reduction singlehandedly "helps the city achieve 10 percent of its [20 percent Greenworks] goal."

It’s no surprise that a company like Veolia can have such a large impact on a citywide initiative. Its Philadelphia district energy network is the third largest energy system in the United States. "We provide steam to 500 buildings with 100 million square feet of total space," explains Veolia's Michael Smedley. Most of their clients are located in University City and Center City.

In fact, the University of Pennsylvania is the company’s largest customer, responsible for 40 percent of their business. Veolia is in negotiations to renew that contract, adding Penn to the list of institutions -- including Thomas Jefferson University, the Barnes Foundation and Drexel -- that have either recently renewed or agreed to long-term lease agreements.

While big clients with long-term contracts are the global firm’s primary targets, Smedley and Haider say smaller-scale work also drives their green market edge. "We feel very responsive to customers' desire for green living," explains Haider.  

Source: Elinor Haider and Michael Smedley, Veolia Energy
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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