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Ottawa’s Zibi waterfront development planning carbon-neutral energy system

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Low-grade heat from effluent will be recovered from the Kruger Products' Gatineau tissue plant and injected into the new central energy plant. In the summer, heat will be sent through chillers into the Ottawa River to efficiently produce chilled water to cool the buildings. Photo Credit: Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc.

The federal government is giving $23 million to Hydro Ottawa to create a district energy system for Ottawa–Gatineau’s planned carbon-neutral waterfront development dubbed Zibi.

The investment will be delivered through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund for this 34-acre $1.8-billion island city project, between Ontario and Quebec on the Ottawa River, which will eventually be home for some 5,000 people.

The planned district energy system for heating and cooling will help achieve Zibi’s environmental objectives of transforming the site’s downtown brownfield lands into the National Capital Region’s first net-zero energy community. If successful, the innovative system will be the first in North America to use post-industrial waste heat recovery in a master-planned community, according to developers.

“The Zibi Community Utility district energy system is a cornerstone in our plans to meet our One Planet sustainability goals,” announced Zibi president Jeff Westeinde in a statement.

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Zibi will be one of the most sustainable communities in the world, and the first in Canada to receive One Planet Living certification, a global framework developed by Bioregional and the World Wildlife Fund.

When completed, all 4 million ft2 of residential and commercial buildings at Zibi will be interconnected through a hydronic loop that will deliver heating and cooling energy. Low-grade heat from effluent will be recovered from the end of the tissue-making process from the neighbouring Kruger Products’ Gatineau tissue plant and injected into the new central energy plant. In the summer, heat will be sent through chillers into the Ottawa River to efficiently produce chilled water to cool the buildings.

“At Hydro Ottawa, we believe it is our responsibility to help build a vibrant and sustainable capital and provide our customers and our community with a clean supply of energy that powers the future responsibly and protects our environment,” announced Bryce Conrad, CEO at Ottawa Hydro. 

In 2018, Ottawa City Council approved the Zibi project for the largest brownfield grant in the city’s history, earmarking $60-million to clean up contaminants and make way for the massive new development.

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