Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from City buildings

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Energy Conservation and Demand Management

In accordance with Ontario Regulation 507/18 enacted under the Electricity Act, 1998, the City of Ottawa is now required to prepare, implement and publish an energy conservation and demand management plan for the operation of its facilities. The energy conservation and demand management plan has two important components:

A summary of the City of Ottawa's energy consumption from its operations:

A detailed plan tracking previous projects and guiding future energy initiatives

LEED buildings in Ottawa

Buildings account for a large share of energy consumed. In Ottawa, almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions come from heating, cooling, lighting and operating the building stock.

Green builders follow rating systems such as LEEDTM and Green Globes, while others do their best to reduce their projects' impact on climate, water use, and air quality. Ottawa currently has over 100 LEED certified buildings of which 12 are owned by the City of Ottawa.

City of Ottawa – Leading by example

The City of Ottawa is committed to reducing the environmental impacts of its building operations. Learn more about the City’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint:

For Green Building related City reports, please see:

Energy efficiency upgrades at City owned buildings

The City is working to make its buildings more energy efficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money. Some examples of the types of projects the City has completed are listed below.

Fitzroy Harbour and Dunrobin Community Centres

Meeting the City’s greenhouse gas reduction targets requires moving away from fossil fuel heating systems such as oil or gas to heat pumps. Some of the first City buildings to have air-source heat pumps installed were Fitzroy Harbour and Dunrobin Community Centres.   

Both community centres have ‘cold-climate’ heat pumps which are designed for Ottawa winters and keep the buildings warm even when it’s -20 degrees Celsius outside. They also work just as well in the summer to keep the buildings cool.

The new heat pumps have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lowered energy costs.

Glebe Community Centre

The City partnered with the Glebe Community Association to improve the energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Glebe Community Centre. The energy efficiency upgrade included:

  • 11 new high-efficiency windows which reduce heat loss by 90 per cent compared with the original single pane windows
  • A new insulated fibreglass external door which assures proper sealing against air leakage when the door is closed
  • Improvements to the buildings control system so heating, cooling and ventilation are provided only when necessary

Staff and visitors alike have noticed how much quieter and more comfortable the building is now. More information about the project is available on the Glebe Community Association website.

Hintonburg Community Centre

Hintonburg Community Centre will be getting $625,000 worth of upgrades to make it more energy efficient. Improvements will include installing high performance windows, upgrading heating, cooling and ventilation equipment and switching from gas heating to electric heat pumps. Once complete retrofits will reduce the facility’s energy consumption by an estimated 30.8 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 28.9 tonnes annually.

The renewed community centre will no longer have any on site emissions and will be more resilient to our changing climate with the capacity to hold its temperature during a protracted power outage. The new windows are not only more insulating but will reduce noise transmission by 40 per cent.

This project is the first deep retrofit of a City of Ottawa building. Funding is being provided by Infrastructure Canada.

Huntley Community Centre

Huntley Community Centre’s aging propane heating system was upgraded to a ground source heat pump. The community centre now uses 76 per cent less energy for heating, saves over $2,400 a year on energy bills and has reduced its annual greenhouse gas emissions from 14.4 tonnes to just 0.6 tonnes.

A ground source heat pump, also known as a geothermal heat pump, uses the earth, ground water or both to heat a building in the winter and cool it in the summer. Huntley Community Centre has an open loop system which utilizes the Oxford aquafer. Water is drawn from an extraction well, run through a heat pump to provide heating or cooling and then returned to an injection well so the aquafer is not depleted.

The new heat pump has been doing a great job of keeping the building warm in winter and cool in the summer.

Walter Baker Sports Centre

The Walter Baker Sports Centre has a dual fuel system. A dual fuel system is an energy efficient way to heat space. It involves pairing two heating systems to maximize energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, and reduce carbon emissions.

The sports centre has a new electric boiler plant which is paired with the existing natural gas boilers. The majority (94 per cent) of Ontario’s electricity comes from emissions free sources. This means electricity is a much better choice than fossil natural gas which is a powerful greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change. However, electricity is often more expensive than natural gas.

As a large building, the sports centre can take advantage of reduced electricity prices at certain times of the day through the Class A electricity rate. When the price of electricity is lower than natural gas, the electric boiler is used. When the electricity price increases again, the natural gas boilers are used instead. This works through a building automation system which assesses dynamic electricity pricing each minute.

By leveraging low hourly electricity prices whenever they occur, the City can save money and decrease the use of natural gas. The dual fuel system has an estimated greenhouse gas emission reduction of 160 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and supports the City’s transition towards being a clean, renewable and resilient city. Having a dual fuel system has also enabled the building to remain heated when the gas system has failed.

Lois Kemp Arena

Since 2018, the Lois Kemp Arena has undergone significant repairs, and a number of energy-saving measures were installed over the course of these renovations, including a new roof with added insulation, LED lighting, and a solar thermal collector.

Lois Kemp Arena exterior

Figure 1: The Lois Kemp Arena after its extensive renovations and energy saving retrofits.  Photo credit: City of Ottawa

The solar thermal collector is a product developed by Toronto-based engineering group SolarWall. This solar collector involved the installation of perforated metal panels on the exterior of the building, with a small gap between the panels and the exterior wall. As sun hits the panels, which are usually painted black or another dark colour, they heat up. As they heat up, the air found between the panels and the exterior wall is heated as well. This air is then fed into the arena’s rooftop ventilation system, drawing in solar-heated fresh air. This pre-heating process means that the arena’s heating system expends less energy to heat up the building, thereby reducing the building’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Lois Kemp Arena exterior

Figure 2: The SolarWall installation on the south wall of Lois Kemp Arena. Photo credit: City of Ottawa

Solar energy installations on City facilities

Generating electricity through solar ensures local energy security and reliability and promotes economic competitiveness and resiliency. It is also an important action required to meet Ottawa’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040 within the corporation, and by 2050 Ottawa-wide. To meet the targets, 20 megawatts of solar must be installed in Ottawa by 2025 and 1100 megawatts by 2050.

Solar panels have been installed on 12 City facilities. These generate local electricity to be used throughout the buildings and sold to the grid through the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program. At eight of the sites the roof space is leased to a third party that owns the equipment and sells the electricity. The remaining sites are owned and operated by the City.

The City will consider pursuing solar energy projects on its facilities through net-metering or behind-the-meter installations. These systems will allow the host facility to use the electricity that is generated on site, and export excess energy to the grid in the case of net-metering. Facilities will be selected based on criteria including the cost of power at prospective sites, roof size and time until next re-roofing.