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District Energy Centre

Commissioned in 2010 and located in downtown Calgary, the District Energy Centre provides central heating and domestic hot water services to approximately 6 million square feet of commercial and residential buildings in Calgary’s downtown core and East Village, generating 55 megawatts (MW) of thermal energy and connecting to customers through a network of insulated underground pipes.

View the guidelines for Safe Construction in the Proximity of the Thermal Distribution Piping System:




What are some of the benefits of district heating?What are some of the benefits of district heating?Text<p>​​The advantage of a district heating system is that, because it serves many customers from one location, it can accomplish things boilers in individual buildings usually can’t. Buildings connected to district energy systems have lower capital costs (less maintenance, no boiler operators), and since no boiler room is required, they save valuable building space. Building owners can rest easy knowing their district energy system is monitored 24/7 by ENMAX Energy, and redundancy is built into our system making it very reliable.​</p>
Why haven’t I heard of District Energy?Why haven’t I heard of District Energy?Text<p>While it’s relatively common in other parts of Canada and the United States, the Downtown District Energy Centre is the first of its kind in Calgary. Institutions like universities and hospitals often use district heating, but it hasn’t traditionally been used to heat commercial buildings in Calgary.</p>​
Is District Energy a new technology?Is District Energy a new technology?Text<p>District energy is actually not a technology at all – it is a means to generate and transmit thermal energy and can incorporate many different technologies and fuel supplies. District energy is also not a new concept – similar systems originated in North America as early as the 1880s, when electric utilities were formed to serve major U.S. cities, like New York and Chicago. District Energy is also very common in Europe.</p>​
How does it work?How does it work?Text<p>ENMAX’s district energy system produces hot water at a central plant and then distributes the energy through underground pipes to buildings connected to the system. Individual buildings do not need boilers and customers use the hot water to meet their space heating needs. Once the hot water is put through a heat exchanger at the customer’s building, the water is returned to the central plant to be reheated and then recirculated through the closed-loop piping system.​​​</p>
How does CHP (Combined Heat and Power, or cogeneration) fit into the picture?How does CHP (Combined Heat and Power, or cogeneration) fit into the picture?Text<p>CHP is a way to increase the efficiency of power plants. Standard power plants effectively use just 40 per cent of the fuel they burn to produce electricity. Sixty per cent of the fuel used in the electric production process ends up wasted up the smokestack. The waste heat from a power plant can be used to heat buildings in a surrounding area through a district energy system. CHP is only possible when there is an area near the plant that has a need for the heat – a downtown area, a college campus or an industrial development.</p>​
How many of these facilities are in operation in Canada?How many of these facilities are in operation in Canada?Text<p>District Energy is actually not that uncommon in an institutional setting - in fact, there are roughly 130 operating District Energy plants in Canada. However, the majority of these are larger institutions - like universities and hospitals - instead of interconnected, commercial enterprises.</p>​
Who is currently an ENMAX District Energy customer in downtown Calgary?Who is currently an ENMAX District Energy customer in downtown Calgary?Text<p>The City of Calgary Municipal Building was the facility’s first customer, signing on in 2010. Following the City’s example, Bow Valley College signed on for their new South Campus expansion – the first building in Calgary built without a conventional boiler system. The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s new home in the Hillier Block Building in the East Village is also a District Energy customer, and when construction is complete on the National Music Centre it will trust ENMAX District Energy for its building heat.</p>​
How much space does the Energy Transfer Station (ETS) require inside the building?How much space does the Energy Transfer Station (ETS) require inside the building?Text<p>Energy transfer stations need only five per cent of the space a conventional boiler room system requires, freeing up valuable square footage. Typical footprints of ETS range from 10 to 15 square meters, dependent on thermal load.</p>​

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Customers are free to purchase natural gas services or electricity services from a retailer of their choice. For a list of retailers, visit ucahelps.alberta.ca or call 310-4822 (toll free in Alberta).