What is District Energy?

District Energy Systems centralize energy production for space heating, cooling, and domestic hot water heating, servicing all types of customers in a given service area. Buildings connected to district energy do not need their own boilers, chillers or cooling towers. These services are generated in a central location and then sent to households through a network of underground distribution pipes.

 Did you know?—Infrastructure for district energy is largely underground, making it complimentary with park space and community aesthetics.

Watch and Learn About District Energy

City of Richmond’s Sustainability in Action video on District Energy (2016).

Benefits of District Energy

District energy utilities are more eco-friendly than traditional energy generation systems for a couple of reasons:

  • Centralising energy production for space heating, cooling and domestic hot water is more energy efficient than each individual household or apartment complex generating these services themselves.
  • When connected to sustainable energy production methods, the energy used to provide space heating, cooling and domestic hot water services is low-carbon and environmentally friendly. The ADEU’s geo-exchange system provides nearly 100% low-carbon energy production.

The Richmond City Council mandated that the district energy systems in Richmond would service customers at costs that are equal to or less than traditional energy production methods. All the money received from customers goes back into paying off the costs of the current systems, improving and expanding the systems. All Lulu Island Energy Company district energy systems are fully funded by customer rates; they are not subsidized by Richmond property taxes.

District energy utilities are able to be connected to many types of energy production systems, including sustainable ones such as ground-source heat, sewer heat reclamation, solar or even air-source heat pumps. In some cases, the utility is connected to multiple types of energy production methods, based on the types that are available. Further, district energy utilities are designed with the ability to be connected to new types of energy production methods as they are discovered, making them a good long-term investment.

Individual buildings connected to DEU systems don’t require the same amount of mechanical equipment as buildings that are not connected to a DEU, which means that the overall system requires less maintenance. In fact, district energy utilities are often automated and require little maintenance or day-to-day supervision. As well, district energy systems are proven and reliable: they are designed with built-in backup systems and their performance is continuously being monitored. Most district energy utilities operate at a reliability of 99%.

District energy is a sensible and forward-thinking alternative to traditional methods of providing space heating, cooling, and domestic hot water heating to neighbourhoods. Lulu Island Energy Company’s district energy utilities deliver worry-free and ready-to-use services directly to customers at an affordable rate.


Sustainability in Action: Alexandra’s New Energy Plant (2017).

Sustainability in Action: Alexandra District Energy Utility Phase 3 (2017).

Sustainability in Action: Barn Owl Boxes at the Alexandra District Energy Utility (2016).

Richmond 2041: Community Energy and Emissions Plan (2014).

Metro Vancouver’s Close Up: Alexandra District Energy Utility (2014).

Alexandra District Energy Utility (2013).

Service Areas