GUELPH, Ontario — The new high-efficiency heating and cooling system in the Sleeman Centre in downtown Guelph, Ontario, Canada is the first step toward building North America’s first city-wide district energy network, announced the city.

While there are thousands of individual systems across the world today, Guelph said it is the first community in North America to establish and announce a plan for an interconnected thermal grid to serve industrial, commercial, and residential buildings across an entire city.

As part of its Community Energy Initiative, Guelph’s plans for district energy are centered on a city-wide thermal energy network allowing neighborhoods to share a sustainable heating and cooling system.

With a district energy system, an underground network of pipes, installed alongside water, electricity, and other utilities, allows multiple buildings to share energy for heating, cooling, and hot water. Benefits include lower fuel and equipment costs, reduced space requirements, lower building and maintenance costs, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The first of many planned district energy facilities began operating just before the start of the year at the Sleeman Centre, Guelph’s sports and entertainment venue. The system is owned and operated by Envida Community Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Guelph Hydro Inc., and will serve as the central heating and cooling plant for the Galt District Energy System.

The system at the Sleeman Centre uses natural gas to heat water in boilers for space heating, and has a central chilling unit to chill water for cooling. Later this year the system will be expanded to heat and cool Guelph’s River Run Centre for the performing arts and other commercial and residential developments in the area.

The District Energy Strategic Plan identifies other key locations for district energy nodes across the city including the 675-acre Hanlon Creek Business Park.

Guelph’s goal is to use its district energy network to supply at least 50 per cent of the community’s heating needs in the next 30 years.

Publication date: 2/10/2014

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