April 7, 2021

An aerial view of Zibi District - Photo source: Zibi Development
An aerial view of Zibi District - Photo source: Zibi Development


Zibi District Energy – Post Industrial Waste Heat Recovery for Residential and Commercial Space Heating project

Lead applicant: Hydro Ottawa Holdings Inc.
Lead municipality: City of Ottawa
Sector: Energy
Approved funding through the Green Municipal Fund: $23,000,000
Loan: $20,000,000
Grant: $3,000,000

The Zibi Development is transforming 34-acres of brownfield lands on the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau’s urban core into a carbon-neutral mixed-use development carefully designed by Dream Unlimited, (TSX: DRM), Dream Impact Trust, (TSX: MPCT.UN) and Theia Partners. To achieve the environmental goals of the district, Hydro Ottawa has partnered with the developer to create a District Energy (DE) system that will leverage waste industrial heat, river-coupled cooling, and locally generated hydroelectricity to eliminate GHG emissions from building heating and cooling operations. A DE network will be deployed on both the Ontario and Quebec sides of the river, connecting individual buildings to a centralized thermal plant, and coupling to the waste-heat recovery station at an adjacent tissue mill. Ultimately, the DE system will provide peak heating capacity of 16 mega-watts and a cooling capacity of 6,000 tons of refrigeration.

The Zibi Development is in line with the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan and the Ville de Gatineau’s Plan d’urbanisme, which encourage infill growth in both municipalities. The DE is in line with Hydro Ottawa’s Strategic Direction 2016-2020, the City of Ottawa’s Climate Change Master Plan, and the City of Gatineau’s Environmental Action Plan. The Zibi development was supported by a GMF-funded Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (GMF 13061)

Innovative aspect(s):

  • The design is based on low temperature (+/-40C) heating water temperatures, which is unprecedented in Canada. Illustrating that 40C heat is sufficient for heating purposes in a cold climate is an important precedent for other Canadian municipalities.
  • The system overcomes jurisdictional barriers of the Canadian electricity market by moving thermal energy between provinces, using only clean, low-cost Quebec electricity. This fact, coupled with unprecedented efficiency and use of post-industrial waste heat positions Zibi’s low-cost DE system in competition with typical gas-fired Ontario developments


  • The City of Ottawa is approaching the concept of low-carbon development in a unique and replicable way by encouraging a partnership between Hydro Ottawa (a Municipal Corporation) and a private developer (Zibi)
  • DE systems serving multiple municipalities and/or provinces can learn from the groundwork that has been laid between Ottawa and Gatineau with respect to servitudes and easements

Environmental benefits:

  • Once fully operational, the system will have net-zero CO2e emissions (1,010 tonnes CO2e/year below baseline)
  • Energy consumption reduction of 27,576 GJ below baseline (61.5%)
  • Water reduction of 8,000m3/year from DE system closed loop design that does not require the use of decentralized cooling towers
  • 4 hectares of land back into productive use
  • The use of post-industrial waste heat will reduce the effluent temperature of water being returned to the Ottawa River in winter from 20C to 6C, removing a pocket of water that can support invasive species in winter months

Economic benefits:

  • Approximately $27.5M worth of short-term construction jobs over a 10-year period, as well as five permanent positions to maintain the system operations
  • The DE system provides building owners and renters on the Ontario and Quebec an affordable and stable energy source. Unlike traditional heating systems that use natural gas, Zibi residents will not be impacted by future escalation of natural gas prices as carbon-based pricing is implemented

Social benefits:

  • Lack of natural gas infrastructure leads to improved life safety and fire risk within the development
  • Reduced urban heat island effect in summer as the DE system dissipates peak cooling loads to the Ottawa river

(Project description from original funding application)

Waste heat is recovered from the Kruger Plant, transported to the central thermal plant, and used to heat and cool the Zibi District.
Waste heat is recovered from the Kruger Plant, transported to the central thermal plant, and used to heat and cool the Zibi District.

Green Municipal Fund
Climate change
Land use
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