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Downtown Halifax redevelopment to boast eastern Canada’s first WWTP energy system


The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) of Cogswell will host the first district energy system in eastern Canada to supply renewable energy generated by a nearby wastewater effluent treatment facility to heat and cool buildings.

The $14-million Cogswell project will be led by Halifax Water to heat, cool and provide hot water for six mixed-use buildings in the major redevelopment of the downtown Halifax neighbourhood.

Halifax Water will own and operate the system of distribution piping, energy transfer stations and interconnections that will generate more than 22 megawatts of peak energy demand annually.

“The Cogswell District is a statement about the Halifax we are quickly becoming, a city that is connected, designed for people and ready to meet a sustainable energy future,” announced HRM Mayor Mike Savage in a statement.

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According to HRM, the Ambient Temperature District Energy System (ATDES) will include an energy centre located at the Halifax WWTP that will provide heat exchange capacity between the wastewater effluent stream and the ATDES piping loop. Mechanical rooms will include heat exchangers, energy meters and heat pumps to transfer energy between the ATDES piping loop and the building systems.

Halifax’s new Ambient Temperature District Energy System is set to be built in the fall of 2021 for $14 million. Graphic: HRM

The new system will offer greater flexibility for building design; lower energy costs; reduced GHG emissions; and improved local air quality. Nova Scotia has set a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 53% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Initially, both Heritage Gas and Nova Scotia Power opposed the move to designate the new system as a utility, claiming Halifax Water had not undertaken enough study of the ATDES and that the concept would force residents to use the new system and limit choice. However, in May, Halifax Water’s application to establish the energy utility received approval by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Similar wastewater heating and cooling systems have been introduced in neighbourhoods in places like Vancouver and Edmonton, as well as many other cities.

Nova Scotia is investing more than $4.6 million in the energy system, with the federal government contributing more than $5.5 million. Halifax Water is spending more than $3.7 million on the project.

Construction of the Halifax-Cogswell system is expected to start in fall of 2021.


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