Innovative green technology comes online at Zibi community

Local politicians and business leaders gathered Tuesday morning to mark the opening of the region’s new district energy system: the Zibi Community Utility (ZCU). 

Zibi, a 34-acre waterfront community straddling Ontario and Quebec, is being developed by Dream Unlimited Corp. and Dream Impact Trust. ZCU is a partnership between Zibi, Theia Partners and Hydro Ottawa. 

ZCU is the only district energy system (DES) in a master-planned community in North America to use low-grade post-industrial waste for the heating of buildings – an innovation rarely considered for heating in cold climates – and is one of only a few DES in North America to meet 100 per cent of the community’s heating needs without fossil fuels. 

The ZCU plant recovers effluent heat from the end of the tissue-making process from the Kruger Products’ Gatineau tissue plant and injects it into the new central energy plant, where the heat is upgraded and moved through a pipe network to the buildings. Beginning this summer, chillers will reject heat to the Ottawa River to efficiently produce chilled water to cool the buildings. 

Since coming online in December 2021, the ZCU plant has been servicing three residential buildings and three office buildings totalling 615,000 square feet. When completed, all four million square feet of residential and commercial buildings at Zibi will be interconnected through a hydronic loop that delivers heating and cooling energy, saving 4,420 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year.


“We are grateful to our partners for joining us today to celebrate the opening of the ZCU and for their invaluable support in helping us take this giant step towards becoming a sustainability showpiece in the heart of the nation’s capital and a model for communities around the world on how to create innovative partnerships that help curb the effects of climate change,” said Michael J. Cooper, president and CEO of Dream Unlimited, in a news release.

“This project not only showcases the innovation possible within the energy sector, but how we can all adapt our businesses, products and strategies for a better and healthier planet with zero-carbon, zero-waste and net-zero operations,” added Bryce Conrad, president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa.