Guelph begins building North America’s first city-wide district energy network

Guelph begins building North America’s first city-wide district energy network
Downtown district energy system first of many in municipal energy plan
The new high-efficiency heating and cooling system in the Sleeman Centre in downtown Guelph is an important first step toward building North America’s first city-wide district energy network.
While district energy technology dates back to ancient Rome, and there are thousands of individual systems across the world today, Guelph 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.
Guelph’s award-winning Community Energy Initiative is internationally recognized for changing the way cities think about energy—from how energy integrates with municipal infrastructure plans to finding ways to manage energy differently, better, than in the past.
As part of the initiative, Guelph’s plans for district energy are centred on a city-wide thermal energy network allowing neighbourhoods to share a more sustainable heating and cooling system. It’s all laid out in Guelph’s District Energy Strategic Plan.
Buildings connected to a district energy system don’t need individual furnaces, air conditioning units, or water heaters. Instead, 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 New Year at the Sleeman Centre—Guelph’s premier 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.
Several key partners, including Guelph Hydro Inc., and Envida Community Energy Inc., are key implementers of the Community Energy Initiative, making better use of local energy sources, creating local jobs and keeping more energy dollars in Guelph.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Guelph begins building North America’s first city-wide district energy network

  1. Excellent and exciting. Guelph definitely needs to be a leader here.

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