Globally, buildings generate a huge percentage of overall greenhouse gases (in the US they account for 39% of CO2 emissions). As we grapple with balancing our high need for renewable energy with our responsibility to the planet, finding more efficient ways to use and produce energy has become tantamount.
One solution that is growing in popularity is the concept of a district energy system.These systems operate on economies of scale — multiple buildings share a centralized energy plant that is most efficient when the buildings are mixed use and their owners share a common desire to participate. Office and residential towers consume energy at different times of the day, having opposite heating and cooling times, making their combination in district energy systems ideal.
Vancouver’s TELUS Garden – currently under construction and comprising office and residential buildings – will include the first North American office tower aiming for LEED Platinum under the newest standards. Sustainability efforts include the implementation of a district energy system that will recover and repurpose the heat released from the TELUS servers and data farms contributing to an 80% reduction in grid energy used by the building’s heating and cooling systems compared to a traditional system. The district energy system will also help reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by a thousand tonnes.
Creating a matrix of local energy sources moves cities away from the risk of city-wide power outages and dependency on external energy sources. It has the potential to make cities more sustainable and more self-sufficient. Do you think district energy systems are a vital step in the direction of sustainable energy use?
BC Climate Action Tool Kit – District Energy Systems
Frances Bula – Vancouver seeks low-carbon solutions for heating buildings
Video: Telus Garden District Energy System