HPAC Magazine

Net-Zero community coming to the Ottawa-Gatineau Area

April 13, 2021 | By Logan Caswell

All buildings at the Zibi waterfront development will be interconnected through a hydronic loop that will deliver heating and cooling generated at a central district energy plant.

(Source: Zibi Development)

The federal government together with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has announced funding towards the construction of the new  district energy (DE) system for Ottawa-Gatineau’s carbon-neutral Zibi waterfront development.

The $23 million dollar investment is coming from FCM’s Green Municipal Fund.

The goal of this system is to help achieve Zibi’s environmental objectives of transforming 34 acres of brownfield lands between Ottawa and Gatineau’s urban core into the National Capital Region’s first net-zero community and become Canada’s most sustainable neighbourhood.

“We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund for this funding, which brings us closer to meeting our vision for creating a sustainability showpiece in the heart of the nation’s capital,” said Jeff Westeinde, Zibi’s president.  “Our hope is that Zibi’s Community Utility will not only achieve net-zero heating and cooling within Zibi but also that our project will become a model for communities around the world on how to create innovative partnerships that help them do the same.”

The DE system will eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from building heating and cooling operations by leveraging locally generated hydroelectricity, river-coupled cooling from the Ottawa River and waste industrial heat from the local Kruger Products industrial plant.

A specific network will be developed on both the Ontario and Quebec sides of the river, connecting individual buildings to a centralized thermal plant, and coupling to the waste-heat recovery station at an adjacent tissue mill.

All buildings at Zibi will be interconnected through a hydronic loop that will deliver heating and cooling energy generated at the central plant, to be located in the lower level of a 15-storey residential building. Highlights of the design are based on low temperature (+/-40C) heating water temperatures.

A first in North America, heat will be injected into this plant through low-grade heat from effluents recovered from the neighbouring Kruger Products plant. Heat will be rejected through chillers into the Ottawa River to efficiently produce chilled water to cool the buildings.

Environmental benefits include:

  • The system will have net-zero CO2e emissions (1,010 tonnes CO2e/year below baseline)
  • Energy consumption reduction of 27,576 GJ below baseline (61.5%)
  • Water reduction of 8,000 cubic metres per year from the DE system closed loop design that does not require the use of decentralized cooling towers.
  • Use of post-industrial waste heat will reduce the effluent temperature of water being returned to the Ottawa River in winter from 20C to 6C, removing a pocket of water that can support invasive species in winter months.




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