Purdue University Graduate School
Schuster Dissertation 2020.11.3.pdf (2.65 MB)

Developing A Decision-Making Framework For A District Energy System Manager

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posted on 2020-12-16, 13:35 authored by Daniel SchusterDaniel Schuster

Managing the highly dynamic and interdependent systems within a district energy system is an intricately complex undertaking. A district energy manager is expected to make decisions that will result in the achievement of the district’s goals, often with limited capital and personnel resources. What has been lacking in the tools available to a district energy manager is an established decision-making framework with which to process the complex internal and external variables involved to effectively develop and evaluate options to make successful decisions.

While capitalizing on the experience of seasoned district energy managers and a literature review of current methodologies, this dissertation assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the methodologies currently available to managers of district energy systems and presents a new and more comprehensive decision-making framework. A system of systems engineering approach is applied, and multiple relevant case studies are analyzed. Procedures for significantly mitigating many of the external risks to a district energy system are developed and documented.

The main contribution of this dissertation is a unique decision-making framework with a holistic approach encompassing the complexity, emergence, and interdependency of district energy subsystems. This framework will aid a district energy manager in making successful decisions which meet the goals of the district.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Civil Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

William T. Horton

Additional Committee Member 2

James E. Braun

Additional Committee Member 3

Loring F. Nies

Additional Committee Member 4

Theodore J. Weidner