Zibi’s district energy system

Zibi, The Waterfront City in the National Capital Region, will transform 34 acres of brownfield lands on the banks of the Ottawa River into the region’s first net-zero community. 

GMF is once again at the forefront of helping to create smart climate solutions focused on reducing emissions, improving energy efficiency and building more sustainable infrastructure.  

GMF has invested $23 million into the Zibi District Energy system. The City of Ottawa is taking a unique and replicable approach to this post-industrial waste heat recovery and cooling project by promoting a partnership between Hydro Ottawa and Zibi’s private developer. The project adheres to all 10 principles of the world-class One Planet Living framework developed by Bioregional, from eliminating GHG-emitting energy sources to encouraging social equity. Zibi’s goal is to become the first community in Canada to be endorsed by One Planet Living. 

The district energy system will leverage waste industrial heat, river-coupled cooling, and locally generated hydroelectricity to eliminate GHG emissions from building heating and cooling operations and achieve the community’s environmental goals. It will use effluent energy recovery from the local Kruger Products plant for heating, and the Ottawa River for cooling. Buildings on the Ontario and the Quebec sides of the river will be connected to a centralized thermal plant, creating a DE network with a capacity of 16 megawatts of zero-carbon heating and 6,000 tons of zero-carbon refrigeration. This will be the first district energy system in North America to use post-industrial effluent energy recovery in a master-planned community. 

Zibi residents will benefit from fewer energy supply disruptions and lower costs than they might experience with a traditional energy network, as the system is less expensive to operate and maintain. Cutting-edge technology will allow residents to control temperatures through a mobile application in buildings that are connected to the DE system network. 

In addition to many community-focused spaces, Zibi will have seamless connections to a variety of transportation options. Pedestrians will be tempted by pathways that wind through vibrant cultural areas, while cyclists will have safe and convenient bike lanes. Proximity to Ottawa’s light rapid transit system will encourage the use of public transit. And car-sharing and EV charging stations will contribute to sustainable driving practices. 

The Zibi DE project gives us a glimpse of a low-emissions energy future and economy. It is a bold example of how local action and partnerships among municipalities and developers could be scaled up into big change.

Results (at full build out)

  • Net-zero CO2e emissions of 1,010 tonnes CO2e/year below baseline 
  • Energy consumption reduction of 27,576 GJ below baseline (61.5%) 
  • Water reduction of 8,000m3/year from DE system closed-loop design that does not require decentralized cooling towers 
  • Four hectares of contaminated land put back into productive use 
  • Reduction from 20C to 6C in the industrial effluent temperature of water returned to the Ottawa River in winter, removing a pocket of water that can support invasive species in winter months