Feasibility Study for a Green Thermal Utility (GTU) District Heating and Cooling Loop in Downtown Saint John

City of Saint John

The City of Saint John studied the feasibility of a district energy system to serve buildings in the downtown area. These systems distribute thermal energy from a central facility to heat and cool multiple buildings.

Saint John's study examined various energy options including raw sewage heat recovery from the nearby waste water treatment plant and energy recovery from  Saint John Harbour seawater and industrial waste. In the end, the recommended approach was to use waste energy from the nearby Irving pulp and paper mill. Initially, 15 buildings would be connected. The district energy system would reduce energy costs, greenhouse-gas emissions and the city's fossil-fuel dependency. It would also encourage the development of green buildings in the heart of the city.


Environmental Economic Social
  • GHG emissions reduced by 9,500 tonnes per year
  • Reduced reliance on fossil fuels
  • Annual energy savings of $2.2 million
  • Six full-time operations jobs and 200 construction jobs
  • Green development revitalizes the downtown core
  • Building residents enjoy the lack of boilers, furnaces and other equipment


  • The lack of a project champion in city government and limited city staffing capacity to oversee the study.
  • Limited understanding of the potential of a district energy system among property managers and owners.
  • Financial constraints at the city, which put the district energy system project on hold in 2011.

Lessons learned

  • Visit district energy sites in other municipalities and consult with managers, designers and developers to clearly understand the potential of these systems.
  • Develop a master community energy plan to list local energy sources, buildings and future infrastructure projects before undertaking this kind of study.
  • Consult early and often with the public and local developers and property managers throughout the project.


Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Samir Yammine
Energy Manager
City of Saint John, NB
T. 506-648-4667

© 2021 Federation of Canadian Municipalities