What is District Energy?

District energy systems centralize the production of thermal heating or cooling to share energy efficiently across multiple buildings located within a district, neighbourhood or campus, eliminating the need for separate space heating, cooling and hot water systems in each building.

Types of Systems

Our thermal energy solutions include district, nodal and discrete energy systems.

District Systems rely on a central plant (or plants) to supply energy to connected buildings through a network of underground distribution pipes.

Nodes are clusters of buildings or small districts that have the potential for connection in the future based on proximity and feasibility.

Lastly, Discrete systems utilize mechanical equipment in each individual building.

Each of the system types can utilize a variety of energy sources, including renewable or low-carbon sources, to satisfy building loads and GHG emissions reduction targets.


Partnering to Tackle Climate Change

Climate change, advances in energy code and compliance standards, and other environmental considerations are driving the rapid development of more efficient and sustainable energy infrastructure – especially in high-density urban environments.

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In Canada, 13% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from building heating and cooling. So, alongside improvements in building efficiencies, making the transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources can make a significant reduction in emissions.

District energy systems are at the forefront of this evolution, as they harness economies of scale to provide significant carbon reductions in a relatively short period of time.

Benefits of District Energy

District Energy systems are highly flexible and scalable. A single district energy system provides multiple environmental and economic benefits to customers, developers, institutional campuses, cities, and municipalities.

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Energy Efficiency

The DE system uses fewer resources to produce the same amount of energy as traditional systems

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Reduced Carbon Footprint

The system’s energy efficiency and use of alternative energy sources reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions and minimizes the community’s carbon footprint.

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Strategy for Urban Densification

District energy and density go hand in hand, harnessing economies of scale to distribute energy supply and demand more efficiently among many users.



The system has the flexibility to add or change energy sources without the need to modify the systems within residential buildings.



DE plants and infrastructure have comprehensive built-in contingency and redundancy, guaranteeing reliable heat, hot water and cooling are readily available 24/7/365.



Eliminates mechanical equipment maintenance and replacement typically undertaken by strata or homeowner associations.

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Competitive Rates

On a lifecycle basis, energy costs are comparable to traditional in-building applications.

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Additional Usable Space

The centralized solution provides mechanical room space savings and enables the beneficial use of rooftop or parking spaces and, depending on the jurisdiction, extra density.

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Cost Savings for Developers

70-80% savings compared to traditional mechanical equipment costs. In addition, ongoing operations and maintenance and equipment replacement costs are avoided if building ownership is retained by the developer.

Energy Sources

Electrical Grid


Depending on how it is generated, electricity can be a low-carbon energy source and used in conjunction with other advanced technologies such as air- or water-source heat pumps. View UBC



GeoExchange systems harness energy from natural thermal sinks – underground or large bodies of water. View Oakridge



Biomass systems use energy from renewable organic matter in the form of wood waste from forestry operations and wood processing. View Burnaby Mountain

Waste Heat

Waste Heat Recovery

Surplus heat from sources such as sewage, cooling (such as data centres) and other industrial processes can be utilized as a reliable source of low-carbon energy. View Bellingham Waterfront


Natural Gas

Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel source than coal or oil and is often used in high-efficiency boilers for peaking or supplemental energy requirements.



Biogas is a renewable source of gas consisting primarily of methane and carbon dioxide produced from the decomposition of organic waste. Biogas can be burned directly or treated further for use like natural gas.

Further Resources

These organizations are an excellent source for district energy news, information, and global best practices.