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District energy systems are typically found on college, university, or hospital campuses and central metropolitan areas. These systems produce high-temperature hot water, steam, or chilled water at a central plant, then distribute it through pipes to buildings connected to the system. Customers in those buildings use the steam and hot and chilled water to meet their space and water heating and air-conditioning needs. In this way, individual buildings do not need costly and cumbersome boilers, chillers, or cooling towers.
Given the diversity and complexity of these systems and the campuses they serve, it takes significant effort to troubleshoot existing problems or predict how future changes will affect total demand on the central plant. For consulting engineers and district energy managers, there is a powerful tool to help with this process: flow modeling.