Government of Canada committed to modernizing heating and cooling plants in National Capital Region

News Release

For immediate release

Innovating technologies will lead to significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

July 18, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Public Services and Procurement Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions – which includes greening its own operations and making emissions data available to the public – in order to lower costs and leave a healthier, cleaner planet for our kids and grandkids.

On behalf of the Honourable Jim Carr, acting Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, today announced the modernization of 5 government-owned central heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. These plants will be modernized by implementing newer and more efficient technologies and exploring the use of renewable sources of energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Services Acquisition Program will help lower emissions by 60%, the equivalent of taking 21,000 cars off the road.

The program is part of a $2.1 billion commitment over five years announced in Budget 2016 to reduce emissions and improve the greening of government operations. These investments bring multiple benefits, including lowering costs, addressing climate change and reducing air pollution.

This summer, the Government of Canada plans to award 2 contracts to conduct initial testing of carbon-neutral fuels through 2 pilot projects at the Confederation Heights Central Heating and Cooling Plant located on Heron Road, in Ottawa, Ontario.


“The rehabilitation of the Government of Canada’s heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region presents an incredible opportunity to invest in and benefit from green technology. By modernizing our plants, we are showing our commitment to being leaders in protecting the environment and strengthening our economy.”

Steven MacKinnon
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“Our government knows that we can protect the environment and decrease costs. We are proud to be taking a leadership role in reducing our emissions by greening our operations and pursuing low-carbon approaches wherever possible. This action will help us achieve our Federal Sustainable Development Strategy target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Our government is determined to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and to inform Canadians as we do so, step by step. Openness and transparency are key to getting results as we pursue lower emissions.”

The Honourable Scott Brison
President of the Treasury Board

Quick Facts

  • This reduction marks a positive trajectory in the government’s commitment to decrease its emissions by 40% by 2030, or earlier.

  • In addition, for the first time, Canadians have single-window access to tracking information about the government’s greenhouse gas emissions on the Government of Canada Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory page.

  • A partial inventory of federal emissions has been published online, which will grow into a comprehensive look at the government’s environmental footprint moving forward.

  • The data released so far shows that the 15 departments and agencies currently contributing to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for 2016 to 2019 have already collectively reduced their emissions by 19%.

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Energy Services Acquisition Program (ESAP)
Pilot projects to test the use of low carbon fuels in heating and cooling plants

The Parliament Buildings and almost 80 other buildings in Ottawa are on a district energy system that connects to central plants using over 14 kilometres of underground piping to provide heating by steam and cooling by chilled water.

The current system was built between 50 and 100 years ago. It uses outdated technologies and many of its components are at the end of their service life. In the same way that you might replace an old furnace in your home with a more energy efficient model, we are modernizing the system to both cut greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

The Energy Services Acquisition Program (ESAP) will modernize the network of plants that heat and cool buildings in Ottawa. Installing new technologies will allow the use of low temperature hot water to reduce energy use. In addition, the Government will pursue the use of carbon neutral energy sources, which will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) plans to work closely with the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau as well as local industry to ensure the program is scalable and adaptable to include new partners.

To prepare for this opportunity, PSPC is testing alternative energy sources through two pilot projects.

These projects will assess the use of renewable fuel oil and wood chips. The results of the pilot projects will determine the potential for expanding these options to other heating and cooling plants as part of a broader renewable energy strategy.

The pilot projects require the measurement of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. The data and analysis will help develop new standards and technical specifications for wider use of these new technologies.

Both pilot projects will run at the Confederation Heights Central Heating and Cooling Plant on Heron Road in Ottawa, which is one of five plants serving the buildings on the district energy system in the National Capital Area.

PSPC has engaged technical experts from the National Research Council (NRC) and Natural Resources Canada for their expertise in renewable fuels and the measurement and verification of emissions reductions.

NRC will award two contracts by the end of July for:

Renewable fuel oil

This contract will test a high grade of liquid biofuel produced from biomass sources. As part of the work, a 1.5 MW boiler and other systems needed to integrate the new technology into the existing plant will be installed, including a storage tank, supply lines and equipment needed to ensure that the fuel has the right viscosity for use in the boiler.

Wood chips

This contract will test solid wood-based biomass in the form of wood chips. As part of this contract, a 1.5 MW boiler and automated systems for storing the biomass and feeding the boiler will be installed.

For more information

To find out more about the details and specifications for these projects, see the Requests for Proposals on

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Fact Sheet

The Government of Canada has taken a number of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which includes greening its own operations and making emissions data available to the public. Here are examples of some these activities:

  • Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) manages five central plants that heat and cool more than 80 public and private owned buildings in the National Capital Region, which constitute one of the largest public sector energy production and distribution systems in North America.
  • Built between 1915 and 1970, the heating and cooling infrastructure is outdated and reached the end of its life cycle.
  • A letter of interest was released in March 2017 to inform industry of upcoming contracting opportunities to modernize the heating and cooling plants by installing new technologies as well as outline the proposed procurement process to ensure a fair, open and transparent process.
  • The request for qualifications is expected to be issued in August 2017, and the request for proposals in early 2018.
  • The Energy Services Acquisition Program will also implement other sustainable development initiatives, like Smart Buildings systems, which collect raw data from building mechanical and electrical systems to optimize performance and energy savings.
  • PSPC will seek opportunities to extend its heating and cooling system to other partners, including municipalities.
  • To support the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations, Budget 2017 provided $13.5 million over five years, starting in fiscal year 2017-2018, to Natural Resources Canada to provide expertise to other federal departments on the best approaches to implement energy efficiency and clean energy technologies, to retrofit federal buildings, and to reduce or eliminate emissions from vehicle fleets.
  • The Department of National Defence (DND) and PSPC are custodians of the majority of federal government buildings and account for more than 75% of all government greenhouse gas emissions.
    • By 2025, 100% of the electricity used in PSPC facilities will come from clean energy sources.
    • DND will meet the federal emissions reduction target by implementing energy performance contracts and designating energy managers at bases across the country, purchasing clean power, and upgrading its infrastructure to reduce its carbon footprint.
  • As part of the commitment to be open and transparent, the government has posted the dataset of federal greenhouse gas emissions up to fiscal year 2014 to 2015 on the Open Data portal. This includes data for facilities and fleets from 15 departments and agencies that are currently being tracked.
  • The Government of Canada’s low-carbon government target in the 2016-2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, with an aspiration to achieve it by 2025.

The Energy Services Acquisition Program initiative will result in improved performance that is better for the environment: the rehabilitation of the energy infrastructure and the introduction of new technology will result in over 35% decrease of energy consumption, resulting in greater cost-effectiveness and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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