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Inside Southeast False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility

Neighbourhood energy systems: in-depth

A neighbourhood renewable energy system produces heat at an energy centre.

Distribution pipes then take the heat from the energy centre to residential, commercial, and institutional buildings to meet their hot water and space heating requirements. 

Neighbourhood renewable energy systems are most suitable in dense urban areas.

Neighbourhood energy centre guidelines

Energy centres are the heart of neighbourhood energy platforms.

Energy centres may make use of a variety of different low carbon energy technologies, such as sewer heat recovery, geothermal heat, urban wood waste, and waste heat recovered from building cooling or industrial processes.

Because energy centres are subtantially different from typical forms of urban development, we established guidelines to enable low carbon development and protect the public interest. Energy centre design and operation must take the following into consideration:

  • Climate protection
  • Air quality
  • Neighbourhood fit
  • Sustainability of fuel sources
  • Community engagement

Learn more about energy centre guidelines  (152 KB)

Business structure and fees

Neighbourhood renewable energy systems function like other public utilities. A neigbhourhood renewable energy utility provider constructs and maintains infrastructure as a public service – in this instance for heat and domestic hot water.

Utilities recover all construction and operations costs through fees charged to customers and have no impact on Vancouver property taxes.

Advantages of neighbourhood renewable energy systems

Neighbourhood renewable energy systems are undergoing a renaissance in cities around the world as a result of growing concerns about climate protection, energy security, and economic resilience.  Advantages include:

  • A flexible infrastructure platform and economies of scale that enable the use of renewable energy resources that are often not available or affordable to implement in individual buildings. These energy sources include waste heat recovered from sewage and air conditioning, geothermal, clean urban wood waste, and other emerging renewable energy technologies.
  • They eliminate the need for boilers and heat generation equipment in customer buildings. This provides space efficiency, better pollution control, and allows individual building owners to avoid costs associated with boiler maintenance and replacement.