Leaders from Zibi, Hydro Ottawa, Kruger Products, Hydro Québec and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, along with the Hull-Aylmer Member of Parliament and the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau, met on May 10 to tour and celebrate the opening of the region’s newest and most innovative district energy system: the Zibi Community Utility (ZCU).

Zibi, a 34-acre waterfront community straddling Ontario and Quebec, is being developed by Dream Unlimited Corp and Dream Impact Trust. The Zibi Community Utility is a partnership between Zibi, Theia Partners, and Hydro Ottawa.

“We are grateful to our partners for joining us today to celebrate the opening of the ZCU, and for their invaluable support in helping us take this giant step towards becoming a sustainability showpiece in the heart of the nation’s capital and a model for communities around the world on how to create innovative partnerships that help curb the effects of climate change,” said Michael Cooper, president and CEO of Dream Unlimited.

With its opening, the ZCU is putting the National Capital region on the map as a leader in combating climate change. It is substantially reducing carbon emissions by using district energy for heating and cooling. The ZCU is the only district energy system (DES) in a master-planned community in North America to use low-grade post-industrial waste for the heating of buildings – an innovation rarely considered for heating in cold climates, and is one of only a few DES in North America to meet 100 per cent of the community’s heating needs without fossil fuels.

The ZCU plant recovers effluent heat from the end of the tissue-making process from the neighbouring Kruger Products’ Gatineau tissue plant and injects it into the new central energy plant, where the heat is upgraded and moved through a pipe network to the buildings. Beginning this summer, chillers will reject heat to the Ottawa River to efficiently produce chilled water to cool the buildings.

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“The Zibi Community Utility represents a significant turning point in our history. Our legacy will be defined by every decision we make and every step we take to help our customers and our community achieve a sustainable energy future,” said Bryce Conrad, president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. “This project not only showcases the innovation possible within the energy sector, but how we can all adapt our businesses, products and strategies for a better and healthier planet with zero-carbon, zero-waste and net-zero operations.”

The plant, which is located on the lower level of Aalto, a residential rental building in Gatineau, has also become a sustainability showpiece for the region, allowing residents and visitors to see the operations and learn about the innovative technology.

Since coming online in December 2021, it has been servicing three residential buildings and three office buildings totaling 615,000 square feet. When completed, all four million square feet of residential and commercial buildings at Zibi will be interconnected through a hydronic loop that delivers heating and cooling energy, saving 4,420 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) per year.

 

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