Renewable District Energy System for Sapperton


District Energy or Neighbourhood Energy systems, are efficient and cost-effective ways of distributing heating or cooling energy to buildings using clean, renewable energy sources.

One of the advantages of district energy is the capacity to supply renewable heating or cooling energy across an entire neighbourhood, providing an opportunity for many buildings to ‘fuel switch’ to low-carbon energy.  This results in a simultaneous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for all buildings connected to the system, thus dropping emissions faster and with less cost than if each building had to accomplish this on its own.

The Sapperton District Energy System is being designed to achieve just that.


Communities around the world are realizing significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with heating or cooling of buildings through the use of district energy systems that use renewable and low-carbon sources of energy. These systems typically utilize one or more low-carbon energy sources and technologies, such as biomass, solar hot water, waste heat recovery, or geo-exchange systems.

The City of New Westminster supports district energy as a way to significantly reduce GHG emissions, through the introduction of renewable sources of heating for buildings, as a long-range investment in sustainable infrastructure.  This direction is strongly supported by the city’s Envision 2032 sustainability framework, and is one of the top implementation priorities from New Westminster’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP).


In conjunction with the expansion of the Royal Columbian Hospital, the City of New Westminster has been investigating the technical and economic feasibility of a neighbourhood-scale system that would supply clean, renewable heating at a competitive price to customers in the Sapperton area.  This system is being designed to serve new residential and commercial development in proximity to Braid and Sapperton Skytrain stations, as well as new buildings along East Columbia Street.

This system will also serve the Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) campus, which represents a very large customer for the system, because it has a significant annual heating requirement. From an energy demand perspective, the hospital functions as the ‘anchor load’ for the system, supporting overall feasibility of the system, particularly during the early stages of the project’s lifecycle.

Over time and as the underground distribution piping network expands into the neighbourhood, it may be possible to connect existing commercial and apartment buildings in Sapperton when existing boilers and heating equipment reach the end of their lifecycle – an ideal time to connect to renewable heat.


The City of New Westminster is currently exploring partnerships with various levels of government as well as different design solutions to ensure the financial viability and efficiency of the project

City Council and Utility Commission approved the business case to establish the Sapperton DES thermal utility and renewable energy service area on November 7, 2016, and instructed staff to proceed with securing a site for the new energy centre in Brunette Industrial area. Council endorsed sewage heat recovery as the preferred renewable energy source for this system.

November 7, 2016 Council Report

Sapperton District Energy System Service Area

The full story and project rationale for creating a low-carbon neighbourhood energy system in Sapperton is included below:

Sapperton Renewable District Energy System (Public Document)

The City of New Westminster is currently evaluating two potential sites for our renewable energy centre in Brunette Industrial area.  Once the energy centre location is finalized in mid-2017, a final round of community engagement will occur on the overall staging of the system and how buildings can be connected to district energy.  During this time, there will be opportunities for local residents and businesses to review, comment and add value to the final concept plan, as well as assist in setting guidelines for the architectural design and public function of the renewable energy centre, which is planned to be in place by 2020-21.

Stay tuned for announcement of community engagement in 2017!

Previous project information

2015 Project Information

2014 Project Information

Open House - June 2014

Open House - November 2013

Council Reports

  • June 9, 2014 -  Proposed district energy project update, air quality study and Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment update

  • November 4, 2014 - Preliminary information

Media Release
November 8, 2013