Big plans for Toronto’s Greenest Neighbourhood

The city Parks and Environment committee endorsed an interesting idea: a net-zero community energy plan for Mount Dennis. A net-zero community is one that produces as much renewable energy as it consumes. If this can be done, Mount Dennis will be Toronto’s first neighbourhood to meet the standard.

The endorsement comes out of community objections to the Eglinton LRT powerplant. The 18MW gas generator will be used in emergencies, and, potentially, to lower the Metrolinx’ electricity bill.

The city has also prepared a draft community energy plan. It forsees energy savings, at least at the early stages, from building retrofits. Most of the savings come from many small initiatives—things like sealing air conditioners and upgrading boiler controls.

The bigger and more exciting ideas are at the local level. We could have sewer heat recovery or distributed heating for instance.

One interesting idea is to recover the heat from the Eglinton generator and use it to warm buildings. The energy would otherwise go to waste.

This, quite apart from its environmental interest, could be a good litmus test of Metrolinx’ intentions; if they intend to use the plant only in emergencies, they should be be very reluctant to build heat infrastructure that will never be used. If, however, they intend to fire up the plant to lower their power bill, we might expect them to produce greater sops for the community.

The community energy report has an interesting passage on the topic. If we’re serious about co-generating heat, we should be building generators in Rosedale, not only in Mount Dennis:

The alternative to a single large plant would be numerous small (< 5 MW) CHP plants at strategic locations along the length of the Crosstown. By co-locating a thermal network along the Crosstown route, CHP plants can be deployed in areas of higher growth (e.g. Yonge Street, Don Mills Road, etc.) where thermal demand is more concentrated. The electricity can be used to power the transit line and the waste heat can be used to heat buildings connected to the thermal network.


Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.