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2013 Energy Projects — Co-winner 1

Capital Regional District, British Columbia

Renewable Energy Heat Recovery Project

Population: 359,991
Project duration: 2009–2011
Total project value: $3,300,000

The Capital Regional District (CRD) has committed to being carbon-neutral by 2012 under BC's Climate Action Charter. The district has focused on reducing energy use for its operations and increasing its use of renewable energy.

The CRD's renewable energy heat recovery project captures the thermal energy from wastewater effluent and circulates it through a district energy system to heat a swimming pool at the district's Panorama Recreation Centre. The renewable energy system replaces natural gas heating for the pool.

After more than two years of planning and design, the project was launched in June 2011 at the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Treatment plant. The system saves the district $77,000 in annual operating costs and reduces GHG emissions by more than 500 tonnes per year.





  • The district reduced emissions by 286 tonnes in less than six months
  • On track to reduce GHG emissions by 560 tonnes (or 100 passenger vehicles) per year
  • Panorama Recreation Centre has reduced energy costs by 25%
  • Heat recovery system saves $77,000 per year
  • Short-term employment opportunities during construction
  • Enhanced regional resiliency against rising energy costs and service disruptions
  • Catalyst project for four more renewable district energy systems


  • There were no other examples of heat recovery projects on Vancouver Island to serve as models for the CRD's approach.
  • Without external funding, the project would take more than 30 years to break even and would not be supported by municipal decision-makers.
  • The CRD's desire to expand renewable district energy systems faces complex challenges, such as carbon offset potential, and governance issues as an energy provider to external organizations.

Lessons learned

  • Engage and consult with operators and staff to design a system that will address all sides of the equation to reach emissions reduction targets.
  • Identify partners with a common interest in reducing energy costs and GHG emissions and make the project scalable. The CRD allowed for future expansion to two sites that did not have funding to invest in the project in the initial stage.
  • Establish a strong business case that clearly articulates the triple-bottom-line benefits to help win supporters and "normalize" green investments.

Partners and collaboration


Page Updated: 27/04/2018