About District Energy

District energy systems are a way of sharing energy efficiently across a community. They use a central energy plant to produce hot water, which is then distributed to heat exchangers located in each building. The heat exchangers, in turn, provide space heating and domestic hot water for residents. Once the water has been used, it returns to the central energy plant to be reheated and recirculated.

A district energy system can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and may use a variety of alternative energy sources including biomass, GeoExchange, solar, and waste heat recovery.

Benefits of District Energy Systems

The UBC NDES provides numerous benefits to the community and its residents, including:

  • Energy Efficiency and Reduced Carbon Footprint 
    The NDES decreases residents’ carbon footprint through greater energy efficiency and the eventual use of alternative energy sources that decrease the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change.
  • Reliability
    Community residents have reliable heat and hot water 7 days a week, 12 months of the year. Exposure to weather-related power outages is reduced compared to traditional electricity-based systems.
  • Resilience
    The system has the flexibility to add or change energy sources over time without having to modify residential building systems.
  • Customer Service
    Customers of the utility have 24/7 direct access to dedicated maintenance and service teams, leading to a higher level of service.
  • Simplicity
    Customers no longer have to manage complex building energy systems or set aside funding for future boiler system replacements.
  • Price Stability and Cost Management
    Because the system will use alternative fuel sources, residents’ exposure to fluctuating gas and electricity prices is reduced. In addition, operations and maintenance costs are reduced because the need for each building to have its own boiler, hot water storage tank and other associated equipment is eliminated.
  • Competitive Rates
    Due diligence studies indicate that on a life cycle basis, customers’ energy costs are similar to current energy costs within the community.

The Future of the NDES at UBC

Future phases of the NDES project will require the integration of alternative renewable energy sources to meet growing demand. The project intends to serve new developments on UBC lands including:

  • Wesbrook Place (currently being served)
  • Stadium
  • East Campus
  • Acadia 
  • Potentially Block F development on UBC Endowment Lands

As more residential developments are built, demand will support a new, permanent Central Energy Plant with a target of 60% total energy from alternative and renewable sources. The waste heat recoverable from the existing cooling towers located at TRIUMF – Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, located on the south campus of UBC – has been identified as the preferred alternative energy source for the NDES.

  • TRIUMF is one of the single largest users of electricity in the Province of BC, currently consuming approximately 65 GWh of electricity per year – enough energy for 6,500 single family homes.
  • Approximately 12 MW of recoverable surplus heat from TRIUMF could be available to serve the NDES. 


Corix and District Energy

For more information regarding Corix's extensive experience with district energy projects in Canada and the US, please visit our District Energy pages.