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QUEST Canada has heard from a large number of diverse stakeholders wanting a more comprehensive net-zero dialogue – one that builds on electrification with the deployment of a diversity of additional local low-carbon energy solutions. Currently, we’re not adequately pursuing local low and zero emission solutions that are available right now, such as district energy, biofuels and renewable natural gas. And it’s limiting our ability to achieve net-zero.

Local solutions exist, but policy, regulation and accessible funding are standing in the way of local contributions to net-zero outcomes. A comprehensive approach that includes a diversity of local low-carbon energy solutions must be enabled in order to achieve our collective net-zero goals.

What the Experts are Saying

What we really need is a more comprehensive net-zero dialogue. We must shift the conversation, acknowledging the need for urgency, by building on electrification with the inclusion of a diversity of local low-carbon energy solutions. On the ground, this means developing policy support for underutilized energy solutions, achieving regulatory reform, creating space for better integrated system planning, and closing the gap on the urban and rural divide.
Tonja Leach

Executive Director, QUEST Canada

Achieving net-zero will require everyone as well as every low-carbon energy source in Canada working together. One technology is not going to provide everything we need everywhere in Canada; we’re going to need a portfolio of net-zero options that can scale and meet all our energy needs.

Richard Carlson

Director, Energy Policy and Energy Exchange, Pollution Probe

Local Low-Carbon Energy Solutions

district energy
What is District Energy?
District energy involves the production and supply of thermal energy (i.e. heat and cooling). A district energy system moves heat and/or cool energy from a centralized source through a network of pipes to buildings. This type of energy is typically most effective in city centres and densely populated areas, close to water sources. District energy systems can make room for developable land, increase efficiency, and reduce capital and operating costs.
district energy
What is Solar Thermal?
Solar thermal energy uses the sun’s energy to generate heat and hot water. And it’s a carbon-free, renewable energy source. Solar thermal technologies involve the conversion of solar radiation into heat and include the use of pumps or fans to actively transfer heat to storage or for distribution directly to its intended use. The key component of any active solar system is the solar collector, which absorbs the sun’s radiant energy and transforms it into usable heat. For electrical energy, solar irradiance is focused on one collector, where all the heat evaporates water to create steam. The steam is used to drive a turbine, attached to a generator, which produces electricity.
Building integrated systems
What are Building Integrated Systems?
Integrated building systems integrate the various systems of a building (structure, envelope, HVAC, lighting, etc.) for the purpose of achieving a higher performance level as a whole than would be possible without integration. The premise is that the parts often have more than one purpose and can achieve multiple performance goals leading to a more efficient solution. Examples include passive systems that incorporate south-facing winter gardens or natural daylighting, and active systems which include initiatives such as programmable lighting.
district energy
What is Industrial and Agricultural Heat?
Heat recovery technology captures and transfers waste heat, either as a liquid or a gas, from sewers or industrial processes to create additional heat or to generate electrical and mechanical power. Capturing waste reduces emissions by using heat that would otherwise be disgarded and also cuts down on the size of other heating machinery.
renewable gasses
What are Renewable Gasses?
Biomass is an organic material derived from plant or animal matter that can be burned to produce heat and/or electricity, or converted into liquid biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Its counterpart, biogas, is made from biodigesters processing organic waste and can be used for electricity generation and/or heating technologies.

Biogas or Renewable Natural Gas, often sourced from municipal landfills or municipal organic waste, in addition to Hydrogen, can also help communities reduce emissions from their natural gas use today.

adsorption cooling
What is Adsorption Cooling?
Adsorption cooling offers a quiet, affordable, and low-emissions energy solution. An adsorption chiller uses water as its refrigerant and silica gel as the adsorption material. The chiller utilizes either solar or waste heat to evaporate and condense water to create cooling. Only a small amount of electricity is needed to power the pump.
district energy
What is Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
Carbon sequestration is the process whereby C02 is captured from large emitting sources (such as an industrial factory) or directly from the atmosphere. Captured C02 can be repurposed, compressed and transported, and even permnanently stored deep underground.
hybrid heating solutions
What is a Hybrid Heating System?
A hyrbrid heating system can use multiple energy sources (typically electricity and fuel), toggling between the two sources dependant on the outdoor temperature. When temperatures dip really low, hybrid heating systems can switch to a fuel-source to help level out demand for electricity while keeping energy costs more affordable. Most hybrid heat systems draw from wired energy sources, eliminating the constant need for fuel-based heating demand, transitioning communities across Canada to a net-zero future.
geothermal heat pumps
What are Geothermal Heat Pumps?
Ground source heat pumps use energy from the subsurface to heat and cool buildings, using less electricity than traditional space heating and air conditioning units. Geothermal heat pumps can lower operating costs, reduce fuel consumption and decrease carbon emissions.
advanced energy management
What is Advanced Energy Management?
Advanced energy management includes implementing solutions like mechancial equipment upgrades, HVAC management controls, fuel switching, and utilizing information gathered from energy audits. This can help optimize energy use, cutting down on emissions and energy bills. It can have a significant impact on the industrial sector, in municipal buildings, on university campuses and in local hospitals across the country.

In the News

Additional Resources

district energy


QUEST Canada & YMCA Greater Toronto Visit the Webpage
Solar thermal in a suburban community


QUEST Canada & YMCA Greater Toronto Visit the Webpage
heat recovery


QUEST Canada & YMCA Greater Toronto Visit the Webpage






QUEST Canada & YMCA Greater Toronto Visit the Webpage


Geothermal piping


QUEST Canada & YMCA Greater Toronto Visit the Webpage