The Saint John City Market in New Brunswick is the oldest continuing farmer’s market in Canada and a national historic site. In 2017, the City of Saint John received a grant from FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) to complete a large-scale energy retrofit of the market building.

The city has identified the building, built in 1785, as a top priority for infrastructure renewal. The market is the centrepiece of the city’s revitalized core and plays a key role in the municipality’s plan to regenerate densely populated neighbourhoods and encourage economic growth. It hosts 50 small businesses, which are supplied by a broad range of local and provincial producers. It’s also a key tourist destination, welcoming over 2.5 million visitors a year.

With the building’s infrastructure aging, issues such as a leaking roof and a major water break in the Head Tower have disrupted operations and caused temporary shutdowns. Operating and energy costs have risen to unsustainable levels, and GHG emissions have increased. Many of the building’s systems have outworn their life expectancy and no longer meet code and regulatory requirements, including the building envelope, HVAC, lighting control and mechanical and plumbing systems.

The large-scale energy retrofit will involve the installation of renewable energy technologies and a number of energy-efficiency technologies, including biomass from certified wood waste, solar power, LED lighting, a smart control system, a high-efficiency air-to-water heat pump system and heat recovery technology using waste thermal energy from the existing refrigeration system. The project also includes a new roof for the building, new windows, and upgrades to the ventilation and plumbing systems. The upgrades will increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions, while also extending the building’s life span and addressing public safety issues.

Project details

  • Project: Saint John City Market energy upgrades 
  • Sector: Energy
  • Grant amount: $1 million
  • Lead entity: Asset and Energy Management, City of Saint John

Primary objectives

  • Reduce energy and maintenance costs and reduce the infrastructure deficit.
  • Improve indoor air quality and comfort for vendors and visitors.
  • Upgrade commercial, office and vendor space.
  • Preserve the integrity of the building as a national historic site and a cultural asset in the community.
  • Raise awareness about the benefits and emissions reduction potential of renewable energy technologies.
  • Increase the life span of the market’s infrastructure.
  • Reduce GHG emissions.
  • Address public safety and building code issues.
  • Implement the latest energy technologies to showcase the market and the city as leading examples of environmental and economic sustainability.
  • Enhance the City Market’s capacity to play a key role in the local economy.
  • Preserve and strengthen the social heart of Saint John.

By the numbers

  • 83% expected reduction in GHG emissions
  • $47,000 anticipated reduction in energy costs per year
  • $50,000 projected reduction in maintenance costs per year
  • $6 million projected reduction in city infrastructure deficit through the replacement and refurbishment of the City Market assets

Project activities

  • Install several innovative renewable energy technologies:
    • Biomass technology that uses certified wood waste
    • Solar power and solar air heating systems
    • A heat recovery system using waste thermal energy from the refrigeration system used by market vendors
    • A high-efficiency air-to-water heat pump system using low-temperature water
    • LED lighting
    • A smart control system to optimize the building energy systems
  • Replace the windows.
  • Use enterprise energy management software to help optimize energy efficiency and address any energy waste using real-time data.
  • Upgrade the ventilation and plumbing systems and replace the roof.
  • Work in partnership with municipal departments, council, the federal and provincial governments and the community, using local expertise where appropriate.


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