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Our Frequently Asked Questions section will be updated as the project evolves.

Please come back from time to time for new questions and answers.

What is a district heating and cooling network and how does it work?

A district energy system is made up of central plants that heat buildings with hot water or steam and cool buildings with chilled water. The water circulates through underground pipes connected in a loop. This process uses less energy and is more efficient than having equipment in each individual building.

District energy systems are used around the world. According to the United Nations’ Energy Program, modern district energy systems in cities are “one of the least-cost and most efficient solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy demand”.

See an illustration of a district heating system and a district cooling system

How is the Government of Canada modernizing heating and cooling plants through the Energy Services Acquisition Program (ESAP)?

The Government of Canada is transforming how it heats 80 buildings and cools 67 buildings in the National Capital Region through a modernization project. Canada is moving forward with a public-private partnership (P3) to design, build and finance the modernization by 2025, and to operate and maintain the system from 2020 to 2055. Canada will retain the ownership of all the heating and cooling plants.

Why use a public-private partnership (P3) business model?

Under the P3 model, the Government of Canada and the Private Partner have signed a project agreement that bundles design, construction, operation and maintenance obligations and clearly states roles and responsibilities.

With this model, the Government of Canada leverages the capacity, innovation and expertise of the private sector to deliver a modern, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable long-term energy services system solution. Moreover, the P3 model ensures that sufficient planning and funds are set aside for regular repair and maintenance, ensuring our assets remains in good condition and the safety of occupants and workers is maintained.

Which areas will be impacted by construction?

Much of the construction work will be underground, but there will be some impact on communities. 

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What measures will be put in place during the construction period to mitigate the impact of construction on neighbouring communities?

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How can citizens keep track of developments during the project?

There are several ways to keep up with developments and this web site is one of the best sources of information. You can also sign up for SMS alerts and our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (and eventually Instagram).

Will the modernized system use renewable / low carbon / zero-carbon energy sources? Is the system compatible with net zero energy?

Cooling will be powered by electricity, which has very low carbon content. The Government of Canada will be using 100% clean energy by 2025. In addition, the system will use river water cooling which is renewable and will reduce our energy needs overall. So our cooling will be carbon neutral.

For heating, Innovate Energy has committed to building and operating a highly efficient natural gas system. Our goal for the future is to move to a low-carbon energy source for our baseload heating, and to rely on renewable sources of natural gas for peaking. Our goal is to eventually reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the district energy system by 90% by 2030.

Finally, we are working with individual building operators to accommodate their plans to add renewable energy, and to be able to receive carbon neutral energy from a variety of sources such as geo-exchange and waste heat.

Will this system be expanded to other federal government buildings or non-federal government buildings?

The goal of the Government of Canada is to make it possible for other buildings to connect to the district energy system once the modernization has been completed.

Has the low-temperature hot-water heating technology introduced by this project been tested or applied by other countries with climates similar to Canada?

The decision to apply the low-temperature hot-water technical solution was based in part on experience and advice from various providers in other countries, some of whom have been operating district energy systems with low temperature hot water for more than twenty years. Many of these countries, notably Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, have seasonal climates very similar to those experienced in the National Capital Region.

Who is Innovate Energy?
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