Surrey Civic Centre District Energy Feasibility Study

Aerial view of the city of Surrey

The City of Surrey studied the feasibility of a district energy system (DES) for its new civic centre and its growing central business area. A DES distributes heating and cooling to a number of buildings from a central source. The study team decided that a geothermal system could serve the buildings in the civic centre complex. For the next phase of downtown development, the team recommended a gas-fired boiler plant. Phase 3 would replace the gas-fired system with a large biomass-fueled plant. The DES will be operated by Surrey City Energy, a municipally-owned utility created in January 2011.


Environmental Economic Social
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from elimination of multiple heating and cooling systems in the downtown core.
  • Increased energy security from use of renewable, locally-sourced energy.
  • DES will reduce energy costs, stimulate economic development and create jobs.
  • DES may provide a long-term source of revenue for the city.
  • DES will help revitalize the downtown core.
  • DES will increase public awareness of energy sustainability.


  • Designing a heating and cooling system to serve up to 800,000 square metres by 2030
  • Meeting the renewable energy requirement of the City's sustainability charter
  • Expanding the district energy system through three phases of downtown development
  • Developing a customer base that will follow the system from natural gas to a low-carbon renewable fuel source

Lessons learned

  • Consider the needs of future customers when planning a district energy system.
  • Examine existing systems in other cities to gain a full appreciation of technologies and their benefits.
  • Create a project team with technical, financial and regulatory expertise.

Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Jason Owen
Acting Manager District Energy Section
City of Surrey, BC
T. 604-591-4742

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