The Government of Canada and Innovate Energy are modernizing the way the government heats and cools buildings in the National Capital Region. This is North America’s first conversion of a large network from steam to an electric system for cooling and low-temperature hot water for heating. The new District Energy System will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, phase out ozone-depleting refrigerants and reduce costs to deliver essential temperature control to the Parliament Buildings and 80 other government buildings in downtown Ottawa. It also allows residents and businesses to tap into cleaner power at the same time.

Converting the heating and cooling plants to cleaner technology will transform energy performance and save hundreds of millions of dollars. It will reduce carbon pollution by 33% and total greenhouse-gas emissions by 63% from 2005 baseline levels. The Ottawa River will help chill the water used to cool buildings connected to the network; a more sustainable alternative to the system presently in place.

Since first mobilizing, our team has collaborated on the vision with project stakeholders. We put forward a building envelope design that obscures the mechanical plant into the cliffside along the base of Parliament Hill, essentially hiding the massive building from view. The team will demolish and rebuild the plant from the lower plateau, reducing the impact of construction to the public from popular destinations such as the Supreme Court and Library and Archives Canada. 

The upper plateau will be reclaimed as park land that extends all the way to the National Capital Commission pathway system at the edge of the Ottawa River. Innovate Energy is tailoring solutions for sensitive areas near construction zones, considering pedestrian paths and potential impacts on the public, neighboring establishments, and fauna and flora. Initiatives that honor Ottawa’s high-profile buildings will help prevent distractions during a visitor’s experience of exploring the city.

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