Quebec firm using municipal wastewater ponds to heat, cool new headquarters

Inspired by the principles of geothermal energy, Équipe Laurence uses 12 coil-type heat exchangers that allow heat from nearby wastewater retention ponds to be taken in the winter for heating its new headquarters. Photo credit: Équipe Laurence

Quebec civil engineering firm Équipe Laurence is utilizing wastewater from the Town of Sainte-Adèle to heat and cool its new corporate headquarters.

Company officials say they’ve seen large savings after drawing energy from the aeration and retention ponds at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

Inspired by the principles of geothermal energy, Équipe Laurence describes using 12 coil-type heat exchangers that allow heat from the ponds to be taken in during the winter for heating the headquarters, then using the same principle in reverse to cool the buildings in the summer.

The process uses two directly drilled 150 mm diameter pipes installed in a directional borehole.

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The ponds do not need to be modified for the process to work effectively.

The company has been monitoring the effectiveness of the process in real time, thanks to a weather station installed on the roof of the headquarters’ main building. After only a few months, the energy efficiency and dynamics of the hydrothermal exchange process has exceeded expectations.

“We are proud to be making a difference with this innovation, which has the merit of being highly ecological, and which has the virtue of being able to be applied elsewhere throughout the Quebec municipal world, where conditions permit, and thus contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of municipalities,” announced Équipe Laurence president and CEO Alexandre Latour, in a translated statement.

The 1.2-million square-foot campus where the headquarters are housed uses permeable and honeycombed paving stones throughout the site to accommodate rainwater. It also utilizes roof water recovery for both toilet management and irrigation purposes.

Construction on the campus began in summer 2021.

Canada has been at the forefront of wastewater energy recovery in North America. The Vancouver False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility began operations in 2010 as the first district energy system in North America to draw heat from untreated municipal wastewater.

In return for the energy savings, Équipe Laurence has committed to making an annual donation of $2,500 to a local non-profit organization in the Sainte-Adèle area, which has a population of some 14,000 residents.

View some of the engineering firm’s projects here.

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