ICT Conversion to Low Temperature Hot Water District Heating System Case Study


The objective of this Engineering Capstone project was to re-design how the heating system at the University of Calgary works to make it more efficient, less wasteful, and to better utilize a renewable resource, by focusing on the ICT building. This project design utilizes Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW) technology and other retrofits to the building envelope to encourage energy efficiency and lower the heat demand in buildings on campus. The goals of this project support the University of Calgary’s 2019 Climate Action Plan (CAP) and is a key step for the institution to reach its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral campus by 2050. This project was presented by Jasmeen Sekhon, Anam Ali, Aadrita Anjishu, David Mejia, Alex Tran, Wei Wen Tan and Jeff Shin at the Engineering Design Fair on April 13, 2021, as a way to showcase creative solutions to industry problems. 


Research conducted demonstrated that using a lower temperature of water when heating buildings proved to be more efficient, as using higher temperature water leads to more heat loss and energy wasted. Improving the building envelope (the layers that make up the structure of the building), also increases the efficiency of the heating system. In the research stage of this project, it was found that the ICT building’s most sensitive thermal zones to change in heating water supply temperature are lecture theaters, exterior tower offices, and the ground floor’s main area. Particular attention must be paid to these spaces when considering retrofit solutions for the building in preparation for reduction of heating water supply temperature. The combination of improving the efficiency of the building envelope and window insulation, with the lower temperature leads to a more sustainable building operation. 

Next Steps: 

Moving forward, it is important to improve the accuracy and reliability of the building model used to simulate the heating system and its response to the implementation of retrofit solutions. One option to achieve this is to research existing models for other buildings that have successfully predicted outcomes for large-scale energy projects. This project advances sustainability on campus by being the first initiative to research the implementation requirements that need to be met to transition of 4th generation district heating, the latest industry trend. Other questions related to this project that could be explored are: “what other retrofits would be beneficial for buildings?”, and, “are heat recovery systems more efficient?” Lastly, a more detailed cost analysis could be done to justify the suggested modifications to existing buildings.