District Energy

Leadership in Sustainability is a Key Objective of Main Alley

Demonstrating climate leadership and smart city building are key objectives of Main Alley and the project’s district energy strategy is an integral part of realizing this vision. There are two components
to the district energy strategy: district cooling, and district heating. Both components maximize the use of existing assets and leverage existing networks, while optimizing for the lowest cost low-carbon solution for future tenants.

District Cooling Strategy

The development will take advantage of existing cooling equipment strategically located at the centre of the development, that has the excess capacity to establish a new district cooling system. The system at Main Alley will serve all buildings in the development and create a new hub for district cooling service that will expand to serve other buildings in the surrounding area as the neighbourhood builds out.

District Heating Strategy

For space heating and hot water, Main Alley will connect to the Southeast False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility, an existing low-carbon district heating system owned by the City of Vancouver which uses waste heat recovered from municipal sewage.

Energy sharing between buildings

The creation of these district cooling and heating networks allows for energy sharing between buildings. The system will recover the waste heat rejected from the district cooling system, and share it with other buildings via the district heating network. This opportunity for energy sharing between buildings is facilitated by the presence of the district heating and cooling networks.

Creative Energy

Creative Energy, a Vancouver-based district energy system provider, is committed to taking on ownership and operations of the existing energy systems at Main Alley, and the new district cooling system. Creative Energy owns and operates one of the largest existing district energy networks in Canada, providing thermal energy to more than 215 buildings, making up 45 million square feet in downtown Vancouver. Creative Energy will use the existing cooling system assets to establish and grow a district cooling system from Main Alley to the neighbourhood. Creative Energy will also own and operate the existing heating systems currently serving the existing buildings until they transition to the City-owned system when they undergo major renovations.

All new Main Alley buildings will connect to the city-owned and operated district heating system when they are constructed. The city-owned system serves approximately 5 million square feet in the Olympic Village and False Creek Flats. The Main and Alley project will be a catalyst for the system to expand south on Main Street to reach a new neighbourhood.

Value Proposition to Tenants

The district cooling and district heating systems will help the development realize several benefits:

Low Costs for Energy Services:

The district cooling system will result in 15% lower life-cycle cost for cooling compared to a typical individual building scale approach. This is because centralizing energy equipment allows for costs to be shared across multiple buildings. Also, because the systems will be professionally maintained and operated they will perform at a higher efficiency and have a longer life-span. This results in lower costs for the energy systems compared to an individual building scale approaches. The district heating system offers low-carbon energy service that is cost competitive with other heating alternatives.

Reduced space requirements for energy equipment:

In the case of cooling, centralizing equipment lowers the total capacity requirement (due to diversity of the peak load conditions between buildings and shared redundancy). This results in less space needed overall for the development compared to if chillers and cooling towers were provided for each individual building. In the case of heating, at full build-out, the development will have no on-site heating plant and rely only on the existing city-owned system for low-cost, low-carbon, reliable heat. This dramatically reduces the need for individual building energy systems in the development and frees up parkade and rooftop space for additional amenities such as parking, bicycle storage, terraces and landscaping.

More reliable energy service:

The district energy systems will be professionally maintained and operated, use multiple fuels, and have additional levels of redundancy compared to what would be seen in individual building scale systems. There are numerous precedents around the globe where district scale systems have proven to be more reliable than individual building systems, especially during major weather events (E.g. Montreal Ice Storm, Hurricane Sandy). District scale systems that use local energy resources are more reliable and resilient to weathering the consequences of these major catastrophes.

Green Building Certi cation bene ts:

The characteristics of the district systems will mean that buildings will realize benefits within green building certification programs. This means the project can achieve the desired level of certification for a lower cost (or a higher level of certification for the same capital cost).

Lower Carbon Emissions:

Because the buildings will connect to the city-owned district heating system that generates heat from a low carbon source, it will have 70% lower carbon emissions compared to a conventional building scale approach. Further, the system has the potential to add additional renewable energy – like recovery of waste heat from cooling via energy sharing between buildings – and transition to 100% renewable energy in the future at much less cost and far less disruption compared to upgrading individual building systems in the future.

LEED Gold Certification

Each building will be designed to a LEED Gold Certification with a combination of high-performance glazing, operable windows for fresh air ventilation, efficient mechanical systems, exterior screening system to provide solar sharing and landscaped roof decks.