Canadian Condos Are Going Green With Geoexchange

By Ben Hamill - February 17 2021
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Canadian Condos Are Going Green With Geoexchange

The reason so many condominiums in Canada are considerably more green than those that went before them, is that many of the high-risers being built right now are kitted out with the technology necessary for turning natural heat or cooling from the ground into air-conditioning we can actually use – fossil fuel-free. While it used to be the case that the majority of these systems were historically put to work in residential family homes, industry experts say geothermal growth is now officially been driven by condominiums.

Geoexchange, which is the term preferred to geothermal by the green energy industry, is according to the president of the Ontario Geoexchange Association, Stanley Reitsma, currently on a rapid uptick. So much so, that Reitsma said he estimates that over the past five years, the number of condos making use of this type of electric heating and cooling, have more than doubled in Ontario alone.

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Counting The Cost

Lloyd Jacobs, who is the GM of FortisBC Energy Services in British Columbia, says he fully agrees with Reitsma. Jacobs said there is a massive and an increasing demand for heating and cooling systems making use of alternative, greener, energy – and markedly so in high-rise buildings that have in the past been heated by fossil fuels or even old and outdated baseboard heating systems.

While upfront expenses involved in the digging and installing of the geoexchange system’s borefield have in the past acted as something of a deterrent for developers and the owners of condominium buildings, those expenses are now being offset by energy and maintenance savings in as little as three to five years. So said Martin Luymes, who is the VP of Government Relations for the Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada.

The Affordability Factor

There are according to Jacobs, Luymes and Reitsma, several reasons for geosystems’ rise in popularity, and especially where large buildings are involved. These include:

  • The increasing implementation of green building regulations. With many cities now pulling in the reigns on the building standards for energy efficiency, builders now want to start gaining experience installing geoexchange systems.
  • There are new and convenient ways to pay. With third-party service providers such as Fortis BC and Toronto-based Diverso Energy now offering to build and operate the necessary borefield upfront, then charging annual service fees to owners over decades, builders and developers are no longer burdened with the total cost of installing a geoexchange system right from the onset.

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