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  • District Energy Study Tour – The Boltzmann Institute is organizing a study tour of eleven district energy systems in northern Europe, May24-June 8, 2024. Participants welcome. See details here.

The overarching mission of the Boltzmann Institute (BI) is to help eliminate harmful emissions from human energy use through research and education.

Our current work focuses on reducing emissions from building operations, chiefly space heating, the main source of greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions in many parts of Canada.

We’re showing that these emissions can often best be reduced by widespread deployment of district energy systems (defined below and further described under the “District Energy” tab).

Such deployment should be a key part of Canada’s strategy to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

What is meant by district energy?

Space heating and cooling in buildings served by district energy systems use hot water (for district heating) and/or cold water (for cooling) provided through underground piping. The pipes link the buildings to thermal energy sources that can be emissions free. They include summer heat harvested and stored as hot water, deep geothermal heat drawn from kilometres below ground, and cold water from deep in Lake Ontario. Buildings on modern district energy networks can sell surplus energy to the system – e.g., heat rejected from supermarket chillers – for use by other buildings.