Skip to content

Supporting the municipal low-carbon agenda

Presented by John Rathbone and Adam Alaica
in Energy, Environment
January, 2022

Geo-exchange systems lead the way in community decarbonization

Sponsored by Geosource Energy Inc.

The electrification of heating is critical in decarbonizing the building sector. Building space heating is one of the largest portions of carbon emissions from a municipal setting. That holds true for the Canadian climate and a lot of European climates as well. So decarbonizing building heating is critical for decarbonizing our building stock.

Geo-exchange is one of the more technically viable solutions to provide low-carbon heating and cooling services. We have dozens of local government success stories and municipal facilities are served quite well with various drilling techniques, whether it be in building with modular rigs or angle drilling approaches to get geo-exchange capacity underneath existing buildings.

The electricity grid is assumed to be capable of absorbing this much additional capacity through this electrification process. Adding in a ground source heat pump solution will help reduce the heavy lift that the grid will have to do to achieve full electrification of the heating system. Geo-exchange systems are a significant contributor to the success of the electrification strategy.

When we implement high-performance systems like geo-exchange we start to see the true peak electrical demand of facilities drop for HVAC load. What tends to happen is that you start to see better capacity utilization of existing infrastructure, meaning you’re able to serve more load, and have more, greater connected customers, and increase greater volume of energy consumed. So, what that does is, again, it allows you to stretch the capacity of existing wires to serve additional load without having to necessarily have a capital upgrade to be able to manage the needs of a community.

When you look at a building as a singular object – or as an energy island – the cost benefit of doing a deep energy retrofit is often very expensive. Bringing in geo-exchange technology and infrastructure drastically enhances the financial or the value proposition of a deep retrofit on a building. It also increases the likelihood of project owners saying yes to those retrofits, which then dovetails into contributing to the community initiatives at-large.

Having geo-exchange infrastructure beneath the building is a far more aesthetically pleasing solution to a deep energy retrofit than, let’s say, an air source heat pump where we’re going to have to try to figure out where to hide condensers on every square meter of roof space or balcony space. It just becomes a much more acceptable solution outside of the traditional categories in terms of engineering and economics. There’s also the people factor. And this one is a far more attractive solution to those challenges.


You can find the full show notes for this episode, as well as the audio podcast for download, at:

John Rathbone is the President at Rathco ENG.

Adam Alaica is the Director, Engineering and Development at Geosource Energy Inc.

Rathbone and Alaica were recent guests for an episode of the MW Presents Podcast. This is an excerpt based on that conversation.

Next Story
See All Feature Stories

A victory for municipal rights in Ontario