District energy: integrating energy and land use
District energy systems centralize the production of heating, or cooling, for a neighbourhood or community. District energy systems typically generate heat at a central plant, or extract heat from other sources, such as heat from wastewater. The heat is captured and distributed via pipes to buildings where it is used for space and water heating. The fluid is then returned to the source to be heated or cooled and recirculated.
District energy systems support GHG emissions reduction when they use heat that is recovered through renewable and recovery methods that are low emissions compared to conventional, non-renewable systems. They can take advantage of load diversification (the different energy demand patterns of residential, commercial, industrial, and other uses) reducing the size of infrastructure needed to service them. They can therefore play a role on local government progress toward low carbon resilience.
Several communities in BC host district energy systems, including Vancouver (False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility) and Prince George (UNBC energy initiative).