Carbon-free energy coming to two landmark federal buildings

An ambitious project has been launched to modernize the energy sources of two federal buildings in Ottawa and reduce their carbon emissions. As part of the transformation, the heating and cooling plants at the National Printing Bureau and National Research Council will be decommissioned, to allow these heritage buildings to benefit from cleaner energy.

National Printing Bureau

Between 1949 and 1953, the Government of Canada started an ambitious program of post-war reconstruction. Over the years, the government built almost 200 new federal buildings across the country, including the National Printing Bureau (NPB).

The National Printing Bureau building

The NPB was included as part of the Federal District Commission of Ottawa's Gréber Plan, an urban development plan for the National Capital Region. The building design of the NPB included a heating plant.

The NPB was designed by Montréal-based architect Ernest Cormier to be a high-speed printing facility. The heating plant addition was designed to provide heat to the NPB, and was expected to act as backup steam production plant for the Cliff heating plant through a connection underneath the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge.

Over time, the heating plant addition became the NPB's central heating and cooling plant and continues to serve the main NPB building with 3 steam boilers and 3 electric chillers.

The current NPB heating plant site will be decommissioned, with the equipment removed and the site available for an alternative use in the future. A new plant located underground, called the Modern Gatineau Energy Centre, will be built on an adjacent site, and it will be linked to the downtown network to add carbon-free heating to the energy mix.

The roof of the new Modern Gatineau Energy Centre will be an urban garden, with new multi-use pathways accessible to employees and the public. The heating and cooling operations will be converted to clean electricity with virtually no carbon emissions. Construction of the new Centre is scheduled to start in late 2022, and will include 3 new electric boilers and 3 new electric chillers, and room for expansion.

National Research Council

Between 1930 and 1932, the National Research Council (NRC) Laboratories building was constructed on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The building originally provided multiple laboratory spaces and supporting facilities for special research needs.

The National Research Council heating and cooling plant

The accompanying heating plant was built around the same time and was compatible in scale, design and materials to the NRC building. The plant provided heating to the NRC building, and included 2 boilers located in the basement.

Currently, this heating plant still supports the NRC Laboratories building and the Lester B. Pearson Building, which is also on Sussex Drive. It has since been upgraded to a heating and cooling plant, with 2 steam boilers and 4 chillers.

The NRC Laboratories building is a Classified Federal Heritage Building and will be preserved. In 2018, it was decided that the NRC heating and cooling plant would be decommissioned, in part due to its small size and inflexible location. The plant was deemed unsuitable as a candidate for the district energy system modernization and is no longer required.

Contracted in June 2019, Innovate Energy will design, build and operate a more modern and efficient district energy system for the federal government in the National Capital Region. The company will decommission the NRC plant once the modernized district energy system is up and running in late 2025. After the plant is decommissioned, it will be managed as a disposal asset, meaning efforts will be made to dispose of the plant in a manner that will maximize benefits by considering the feasibility of the refit, repurpose and reuse of all materiel before divestiture through other options. Given its heritage status and location, the NRC plant will undoubtedly find a new use.

To learn more about how Public Services and Procurement Canada plans to make federal buildings more environmentally friendly, check out the Greener federal buildings. For any questions related to the Energy Services Acquisition Program, you can contact Real Property Services directly.

Date modified: