Zibi is one of the first communities in North America to use an innovative district energy system, a heating and cooling method that burns no fossil fuel.
Scott Demark is the president of the Zibi Community Utility and says, “Most of the heating and cooling in Gatineau and Ottawa is done by burning fossil fuel. So, what this allows us to do is burn no fossil fuels.”
Zibi is a 34-acre waterfront community straddling both Ottawa and Gatineau near the Champlain Bridge.
The green energy system uses its location close to the Ottawa River and the Kruger Product Plant to heat and cool using green technology. The Zibi Community Utility is a partnership between Tehia Partners and Hydro Ottawa.
To create heat, effluent heat from the tissue-making process is funneled into a plant where the heat is upgraded and moved through a network of pipes to the Zibi site.
For the cooling process, cold water is pulled in from the Ottawa River and put in chillers to produce chilled water to cool the buildings.
All the heating and cooling goes through a hydronic loop between Gatineau and Ottawa.
Demark says the system is “So efficient – in turning the Kruger energy into useful energy, the river water into useful energy,” that the system will be successful even in Ottawa’s cold winters and humid summers.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says, “Zibi is putting the National Capital region on the map as leaders in combating climate change through innovative technology.”
The city of Ottawa’s master plan wants to transition Ottawa into a clean, more resilient city by 2050. Watson says, “We have net zero project and the new central library, it will be open in a few years, and will be the first project to open at LeBreton Flats, and thanks to (former MP) Catherine McKenna, we were able to get funding for this joint invoice to make sure it is a net zero carbon footprint.”
The system has been in use since December 2021, heating and cooling three residential buildings and three office towers. When the entire Zibi site is expected to be completed by 2032, four-million square feet will save 4,420 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year, according to Zibi officials.
Demark says this is the equivalent of taking about one-thousand cars off the road a year.