Construction set to begin on new energy centre in Gatineau

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Officials gathered in mid-June to launch construction of the Modernized Gatineau Energy Centre.

The Centre is part of the Energy Services Acquisition Program (ESAP) to modernize and decarbonize the federal district energy system that provides heating for 80 buildings and cooling for 67 in the National Capital Region (NCR), including the Parliament buildings.

The contract for the ESAP project was awarded in 2019 to Innovate Energy, a consortium of partners comprised of PCL Construction, ENGIE Services Canada and Black & McDonald, with the participation of bbb architects and WSP.

The NCR district energy system consists of 5 central plants using piping that was built between 50 and 100 years ago. The system currently uses outdated technologies and many of its components are at the end of their service life.

The ESAP project is valued at $3.8 billion and is broken down into 2 components. The first, valued at $1.5 billion, is for the design and construction of the new district energy system, to be completed by 2026. The second component is for the operation and maintenance of the new system, which includes energy costs, over a 35-year period, valued at $2.3 billion.

A portion of the new facility will be concealed underground, integrated with its surroundings, and allow for a new public space built overtop, with gardens, courtyards, urban landscapes and greenspace for recreational activities.

Through a public-private partnership agreement, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is working with Innovate Energy to meet a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its own operations by 40 per cent by 2025.

“The new energy Centre will represent a major shift in conventional thinking on how we heat and cool buildings in the National Capital Region,” said Filomena Tassi, minister of public services and procurement. “Not only will we reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, save hundreds of millions of dollars in heating and cooling costs, and improve safety conditions, the Centre has the potential to be a showcase project for other jurisdictions worldwide.”

Construction on the facility, one of four sites that make up the federal district energy system, will begin this month and is expected to be completed by March 2025. It will be carbon neutral and one of the cleanest, most sustainable energy centres of this scale in North America.

By 2025, the entire federal district energy system will be modernized and converted from an energy-intensive and high-polluting steam system to a state-of-the-art low-temperature hot-water system, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heating and cooling operations by an estimated 92 per cent.

“Innovate Energy is proud to work as a partner with the Government of Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and improve safety as we design, construct and operate the modernized district energy system in the National Capital Region,” said Tony Cook, Innovate Energy’s project director for the Energy Services Acquisition Program

Once completed in 2025, the modernized system will consist of 4 energy centres: the new Tunney’s Pasture Energy Centre; the new Cliff Energy Centre at Parliament Hill; the new Modernized Gatineau Energy Centre; and the renovated and retrofitted Confederation Heights Energy Centre. The National Research Council facility will be decommissioned.

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