As urbanization grows, populations increase, climate change pushes forward and existing systems age, it more important than ever that our essential infrastructure is as resilient as possible to handle whatever the future holds. Our cities need better solutions to urban planning that address energy demand, sustainability and resiliency.
Buildings represent over one-third of the total GHG emissions, and energy use, on average, in Canada and internationally. District energy systems, which involve the central provision of heating, cooling or co-generation, are inherently more environmentally friendly than large-scale energy grids, making them vital to our efforts to mitigate climate change.
of the worlds population will live in cities by 2030
of Canadians living in cities
in Canada’s four largest cities
How District Energy Works
District energy is the centralized generation and distribution of thermal energy to a group of buildings within a neighbourhood. The thermal energy is then delivered to customers through a network of interconnected underground pipes, and heat exchangers at each building which are commonly referred to as Energy Transfer Stations, or ETS.
District energy eliminates the need for each building to have individual boilers, chillers, and cooling towers, making them well-suited for high-density urban centres, industrial complexes, civic hubs, hospitals and university campuses. For example, in a dense downtown area of 200 buildings, a district energy system means one central ‘boiler’ instead of 200 individual boilers.
Energy sharing across different buildings can also allow one building’s cooling by-products (i.e. waste heat) to be another building’s source of heating, further improving environmental performance and reducing energy costs.
Another benefit of district energy is the flexibility to adapt to use renewable and locally available fuel sources. This means a city is not reliant on one fuel source, such as fossil fuels.
Alternative energy sources can include:
- Carbon-based biological material derived mainly from plants.
- Radiant heat and light captured from the sun
- Waste materials generated industries such as construction.
- Internal heat generated and stored in the Earth.
- Household waste water from sinks, showers, baths, etc.
Surplus industry heat
- Waste heat from sources such as a data plant.
Making District Energy Work for You
District energy systems are designed to provide low-cost, low-carbon, and reliable heating and/or cooling while removing the need for less efficient in-house boilers, chillers, and cooling towers, and their associated operations and maintenance requirements.
By centralizing the thermal energy generation, considerable capital cost savings and space savings are recognized within the connected buildings, allowing developers, owners, and users to maximize the value of their real estate.
District energy systems offer:
Capital cost savings
District energy systems remove the need for individual boilers, saving capital, operating and maintenance costs.
A central district energy plant has the flexibility to use different fuels such as wood and sewage waste, and the ability to switch to whichever fuel is most economical or available at any given time.
Removing the need for on-site equipment such as boilers, chillers or cooling towers, a central plant is easier to update to incorporate advances in technology, with any maintenance cost pooled across a larger group.
Our central boiler in Vancouver saves residents an average of $45/ kilowatt hour (compared with electric heat distribution in 2017). In addition, district energy systems become more and more cost effective as more and more people join the network.
Lower GHG emissions
A central plant is better positioned to take advantage of alternative fuels such as biomass, waste materials, solar energy, geothermal, surplus industry heat, or household water from sinks, showers and baths.
District energy systems are can integrate various renewable fuel sources, and are more efficient, robust and flexible over the long-term.
Robust, reliable system
District energy systems are extremely reliable. At Creative Energy, we have a reliability track record of over 99.9% for 50 years.
24/7 monitoring for peace of mind
With individual boilers a fault could go unnoticed for weeks or months, but Creative Energy helps flag problems when they occur so they can be fixed immediately.