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The go-to guide for sustainable district cooling

Part of Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

What is the aim of this project?

This project produced Sustainable District Cooling Guidelines, which summarises state-of-the-art district cooling technology and describes in detail innovative and sustainable technologies, approaches and demonstration plants. The publication is meant to serve as a resource for everyone interested in providing sustainable cooling, including utilities, planners and policy makers.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

A district cooling system consists of a pipe network filled with water that is chilled by district cooling plants (chillers or residual heat for cooling). The chilled water travels from the plant to the building, cooling the space, and returns to the plant to be cooled again. To increase energy efficiency and reliability, district cooling systems are often combined with night-to-day storage facilities, in which overcapacity during the night is stored for use during daytime.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • enhances aesthetics and improves the local environment by reducing the noise and increasing the security of energy supply in line with new international environmental norms
  • improves reliability and reduces cost for consumers, without using cooling agents that damage the environment
  • provides energy service companies with a competitive product that fits with corporate social responsibility policy

At what stage of development is this project?

The project began and was completed in 2019. Sustainable District Cooling Guidelines was made available online and circulated within the TCP members’ district heating and cooling networks.   

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • including district heating and cooling systems in building authorization procedures
  • increasing subsidies for district heating and cooling
  • putting increasing emphasis on the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment, international agreements to limit the use of cooling agents that damage the environment

A district cooling system Source: Devcco - District Energy Venture


  • R2M Solution Srl (project lead)
  • Technical Research Centre of Finland
  • South China University of Technology
  • District Energy Venture


  • Jointly funded by all DHC TCP members: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Korea, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the International District Energy Association (United States).

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on District Heating and Cooling including Combined Heat and Power (DHC TCP)

The DHC TCP conducts research and development as well as policy analysis and international co-operation to increase the market penetration of district heating and cooling systems with low environmental impact.