Markham District Energy System

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Markham District Energy System


FVB Energy Inc has been working closely with the town of Markham since the first feasibility study for their district energy system.  The Markham District Energy System (MDE) is North America’s first District Energy system to combine the use of hot water for heating, chilled water for cooling and combined heat and power (CHP). Since 2000, nearly 6 million square feet of building space has been connected to the Markham Centre district energy system, reducing the City’s carbon footprint and increasing the customers’ comfort compared to traditional electric resistance heating. This model of sustainability solution will serve 41,000 residents and 39,000 employees at full buildout.



Natural gas fired boilers within the MDE energy centre produce hot water for the District Heating system, providing customers with a more efficient heating source than traditional boiler systems. Electric centrifugal chillers are used in combination with a hot water absorption chiller to produce the chilled water for the District Cooling system. In 2009, a combined heat and power engine was commissioned as part of the Clegg Energy Centre. The CHP plant utilizes a gas fired combined heat and power engine to produce 3.3 MW of electricity and 85% of the district heating system’s annual thermal energy requirements. In addition, thermal energy from the engine is utilized to provide a portion of the cooling energy via an absorption chiller. The entire plant can island itself during any grid interruption and provide electricity to critical buildings in the Markham area. Hot and chilled water was distributed to Markham’s first customer, IBM Software Solutions Laboratory, on December 1, 2000. Since the start of the system, MDE has grown to include more energy centers and a larger distribution grid enabling MDE to serve many more customers with reliable thermal energy.

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The motivation behind the town of Markham’s District Energy System was twofold:

1. The 1998 ice storm in Montreal provided Markham with a real life example of what happens when a community relies entirely on an outside resource for electricity.  With district energy, the city has an alternative energy source that can ensure critical buildings stay online in times of crisis.

2. Markham was actively trying to attract hi-tech industry to the community and was looking for an additional edge. The District Energy system proved to be the added edge that was needed to convince IBM to locate in Markham. Other hi-tech firms, such as Motorola, have also decided to locate in the area due to the high reliability and low carbon footprint of the MDE.

Project Milestones

– MDE commences energy supply to IBM Canada (December 1, 2000)

– Clegg Energy Centre, the second energy plant, a 5 MW combined heat and power facility, is commissioned (2009)

– Birchmount Energy Centre, MDE`s third energy plant, is commissioned (2010)

– MDE`s second distribution piping system and the fourth energy centre, the 7 MW Bur Oak Energy Centre, starts up (2012)

More Information

Visit the Markham District Energy website: