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  • Writer's pictureJustine Rowbotham-Belot

Geothermal Energy for Condominiums

As the demand for more sustainable multi-family developments increases, so does the opportunity to re-think our energy sources and how we meet heating and cooling demands. One such beneficial technology attracting attention from developers and designers alike is the application of geothermal energy systems.

Geo, meaning ‘earth’ and thermal, meaning ‘heat’ is an energy derived from the heat of the earth which in turn, can be harnessed as a source of renewable electricity as well as supply heating and cooling to buildings. The presence of hot rocks, fluid and permeability underground creates natural geothermal systems. Small underground pathways conduct fluid through hot rocks that can be drawn as heat energy through wells to the earth’s surface. It is a clean energy source that can be extracted without burning fossil fuels and producing only about one-sixth of the carbon dioxide of a natural gas power plant.

3 Pros of geothermal energy

  • Reliable source of power – will run non-stop 24/7

  • Small land footprint

  • Can be used as large- and small-scale installations.

  • No more bulky expensive cooling towers – frees up roof space

3 Cons of geothermal energy

  • Location dependent

  • High initial costs

  • Can lead to surface instability.

Why use this for condos? Within the past decade there has been a huge demand for alternative energy sources that provide heating and cooling due to the size of the buildings and the amount of heating and cooling that is required. The cost of running this kind of alternative energy can be very high, but those upfront costs are now being offset by the long-term savings by factors such as lower energy use and minimal maintenance costs. Many cities, including Toronto, are tightening the building standards for efficiency and emissions, hoping to be close to zero carbon emissions by 2030, making this energy source more attractive for developers.

onespace currently has one project utilizing geothermal energy, a mid-rise condo set for completion in 2025. King Heights, currently finalizing planning approvals will use Geothermal energy. The current plan is to drill 60 boreholes 850 feet deep into the earth's surface. The boreholes will be under the footprint of the building and field temperature will be monitored. The geothermal energy will provide 100% of the cooling for the building and 90% of the heating. Fossil fuels must be used for the heating balance throughout the colder months. Overall, the energy savings for this building will total approximately 400,000 ekWh per year.

New and current condo owners can feel reassured, the newest age of renewable energy sources has already started. It is possible to live in a trending metropolis and be environmentally conscious!


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