Cadillac Fairview, partnership with Vancouver-based Fenix Energy, has begun Canada’s first geo-exchange retrofit of an occupied, mixed-use high-rise complex in a downtown core. The project is at their 777 Dunsmuir property in Vancouver, which includes a 19-storey office tower, as well as the Holt Renfrew and Sport Chek portion of Pacific Centre.
Fenix Energy will complete the geo-exchange system installation within 777 Dunsmuir’s existing building footprint, drilling 30 boreholes 400 feet into the earth through the building’s underground parkade.
By harvesting a building’s rejected heat and storing it underground until it is needed, geo-exchange offers a solution for reducing the energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional heating and cooling. However, until now, geo-exchange systems have primarily been installed in new projects or projects where land is readily available adjacent to a building. Projects with small footprints in operating buildings, such as the one at 777 Dunsmuir, had remained elusive.
Fenix Energy’s system enables the installation of vertical rather than horizontal piping underground. Fenix has also designed a unique drilling system to facilitate boring in confined spaces such as parkades with low headroom. As a result, the project will have minimal disruption on the surrounding area allowing the building to remain occupied.
“Globally, buildings consume around 40 per cent of our total energy, a significant portion of which is for heating and cooling. So the potential to make a difference through geo-exchange is enormous,” says Edward Smith, managing director, Fenix Energy. “Green is about efficiency and using the energy that’s already there. Geo-exchange does exactly that, and now we have the technology to tackle the large existing buildings which make up our dense downtown cores.”