HPAC Magazine

Geothermal Conference a sold out success

May 23, 2024 | By Doug Picklyk

Sold out event attracted municipalities, developers, engineers, contractors and more to share the growth of the geothermal movement in Canada.

OGA conference organizer Paul Frith welcomed the sold out crowd of 300 and plans to attract 500 next year.

The Ontario Geothermal Association attracted some 300 people, a sell out, for its 2024 Conference held on Wednesday, May 22nd at Mohawk College in Hamilton.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Geothermal: The New Normal’, and the intent was to bring together stakeholders that touch all sectors of the geothermal universe including municipality advisors, HVAC/R professionals, consulting engineers and designers, as well as developers, educators, and utilities.

The day-long conference included big picture keynotes touching on decarbonization and electrification trends in the built environment, including a speaker from Cisco providing a high-tech perspective and also on-the-ground insights from the director of smart buildings and energy management at Toronto Housing.

There was a lot of discussion on new technology and new builds incorporating geothermal systems, and where geothermal fits into the broader decarbonization picture.

Tony Cupido, P.Eng., former chief building and facilities officer at Mohawk College.

Break out sessions focused on case studies or technology opportunities. Tony Cupido, P.Eng., shared details on the development of the Joyce Centre at Mohawk College, the first Net Zero Carbon institutional building in Canada that heats and cools the building using a geothermal VRF system. He was also giving tours of the facility during the day.

Martin Luymes of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) provided an update on how the federal government is working with the heating and cooling industry.

Fresh from an industry day-on-the-hill event, Luymes shared how HRAI continues to emphasize the need for workforce development support, and he shared insights on the association’s roll-out of a new Heat Pump Champions program to identify and qualify contractors across the country who are taking a pro-heat pump approach and have the required design and installation skillset.

He also shared development of a program to identify skill gaps in the industry and the collaboration on training programs to transition gas technicians into heat pump techs.

Also, a representative from the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) took the main stage to share the group’s relationship with HRAI for training, and he shared that an updated 2024 edition of the CSA C448, Standard for the Design and Installation of Ground Source Heat Pump Systems for Commercial and Residential Buildings, will be open for review in June/July and is expected to publish in December.

The OGA has also been working on a white paper, Geothermal Drilling Guidelines for Municipalities, a publication prepared for Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and should be available in June.

Tim Weber sees geothermal being embraced by high-rise developers in Toronto.

The final sessions included a presentation by Tim Weber, president of Diverso Energy, a geothermal utility company, who has seen the technology being embraced in the Toronto high-rise construction developments, in part because of more strict green building policies and supportive federal financing programs that make the economics of geothermal work for large building developers.

“Sustainability and profitability are no longer mutually exclusive,” says Weber. “In fact, it’s now the inverse, without sustainability you’re not going to be profitable.”

The closing panel discussion focused on low carbon district energy solutions, with panelists representing Enwave, Creative Energy and Corix all agreeing that municipal policy needs to be in place to support district energy solutions, and geothermal is complementary to the decarbonization of district energy.

As a final thank you, conference organizer Paul Frith stated he wants to see 500 people at the conference next year, “So please tell your peers about this event. We’re going to go really big.”

Panel on district energy, moderated by John Rathbone of Rathco Engineering, with (l-r) Diego Mandelbaum, Creative Energy; Geoff Olsen, P.Eng. Enwave; and Travis Kulak, Corix.







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