District Energy

Alexandra District Energy Utility (ADEU)

What is the Alexandra District Energy Utility?

Alexandra District Energy Utility (ADEU) is a ground source system that centralizes energy production for heating, cooling and domestic hot water, servicing residential and commercial customers in the West Cambie neighbourhood. 

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What renewable energy sources does Alexandra District Energy Utility use?

The first phase of the Alexandra District Energy Utility renewable energy system uses ground source heat pump technology to extract heat (geothermal energy) from the ground via a network of vertical pipe loops.  In cooling mode during the summer months, the energy flow is reversed and heat is pumped into the ground.

It was designed for expansion as the neighbourhood develops and the demands require more supply.

The Phase three expansion was completed in December 2015 and the system now provides energy to five residential buildings equalling almost 1,200 units and one institutional building.

Phase four will expand the system to service a large commercial development in the neighbourhood and is expected to be complete in the fall 2016.

Benefits of Alexandra District Energy Utility

Ease of Operation – Less Management – Less Costs

Individual buildings connected to the ADEU require smaller sized boilers, chillers, or cooling towers, or none at all. This results in reduced ongoing operating, maintenance, and labour costs.

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Improved Efficiency/Reliability

  • The ADEU technology is proven and reliable.  It has built-in backup systems and its performance is monitored continuously.
  • It increases energy use efficiency by matching energy supply with energy demand.
  • ADEU increases community energy resiliency by reducing reliance on external energy sources.

Fuel Flexibility

  • ADEU is adaptable to sustainable energy sources such as ground source heat, ground water heat, sewer heat, solar and renewable energy technologies as they are developed.


  • ADEU enables building owners to conserve energy and improve operating efficiency, thus protecting the environment.
  • By reducing the need to burn natural gas, it is estimated that GHG reductions will be equivalent to moving up to 2,000 cars off the road each year.

Comfort and Convenience for Customers

  • ADEU provides more affordable energy costs for their customers.
  • It delivers worry-free, ready-to-use heating and cooling directly to a customer's building.
  • ADEU provides hydronic (water) heating and cooling which is generally considered more comfortable than other forms of space conditioning.

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Did You Know?

District energy is a concept that originated in North America in the 1880s.

  • Roughly 130 district energy utility plants are operating in Canada.
  • Most district energy utility systems operate at a reliability of 99.99%.
  • As the ADEU expands local design, construction, operating and maintenance employment opportunities will grow.
  • ADEU infrastructure is largely underground and therefore complimentary with park space and community aesthetics.
  • ADEU is fully funded from service fee revenue and has no impact on Richmond property taxes.
  • ADEU has earned nine awards during the 2013 to 2016 time frame for being an exemplary district energy system, providing high-level performance and advancing the goals of the entire district energy industry. These awards range from local (Association of Professional Engineers BC, Community Energy Association, Public Works Association of BC); national (Canadian Association of Consulting Engineers, Canadian Geo-Exchange Coalition) to international awards (Energy Globe Foundation, International District Energy Association Innovation Certificate of Achievement).


  • Alexandra District Energy Utility (ADEU) is fully owned and operated by the City of Richmond and is fully supported by user fees and has no impact on Richmond property taxes.
  • Strata corporations and building owners are billed on a quarterly basis, at the rate that is comprised of three charges:
    • Charge based on the gross floor area of the building ($0.087 per sq. ft.).
    • Charge based on the annual peak heating load supplied by ADEU to the building ($1.170 per kW).
    • Charge based on the energy consumed by the building ($3.743 per MWh).
  • The ADEU rate is based on the Council adopted objective to provide end users with annual energy costs that are equal to or less than conventional system energy costs based on the same level of service. At the same time the rate is designed to recover the ADEU's fixed costs such as infrastructure development, operation and maintenance, energy and other. The rate is reviewed and approved by Council on yearly basis.
  • Individual strata corporations are responsible for the distribution of ADEU energy costs to the individual unit owners.  The ADEU energy costs are typically built into the monthly strata fee.

Future Plans

  • Under Alexandra District Energy Utility Bylaw No. 8641 all future buildings within the boundaries of service area in the Alexandra neighbourhood will connect to the ADEU. At the full build-out ADEU will service 3.9 mil. sq. ft. of residential (3,100 units), commercial, office and institutional space) with a 19 megawatt peaking load.

Information for Developers

  • The "Energy Transfer System Guidance Document for Developers" booklet is available on request to provide guidance to developers and mechanical consultants in their design and implementation of Energy Transfer Systems connected to the ADEU.
  • Please contact Alen Postolka at 604-276-4283 or through email at Alen.Postolka@richmond.ca if you wish to get a copy of this document or need more information on ADEU.