Waterstone Pier, the first phase of Richmond’s scenic Riverport development, is made up of three buildings and 140 units nestled just metres away from the Fraser River, with views of majestic Mount Baker towering in the distance.
Riverport’s developer, Brent Kerr, didn’t want this to be just another development. He knew that, between the fantastic location of Waterstone Pier and the fact that it was designed by the same award-winning architectural team responsible for shaping Vancouver’s Granville Island, he had the opportunity to create something special. That’s why, during its inception in 2004, Kerr made the forward-thinking decision to install a geoexchange energy system.
The team at FortisBC, also a forward-thinking company, were thrilled to be a part of Waterstone Pier’s innovative energy solution from day one. They not only helped plan the strategy, but also continue to own and operate the stand-alone geoexchange loop field systems to this day. Unlike many other heating methods, the FortisBC geoexchange loop field system at Waterstone Pier extracts renewable energy from the earth.
A geoexchange system consists of three main components: the ground loop heat exchanger, the heat pump and the distribution system. According to FortisBC’s director of business development for alternative energy services, Gareth Jones, a geoexchange system typically uses only a third to a quarter of the natural gas or electricity required by conventional heating and cooling systems.
However in 2004, a time when location and lifestyle still trumped sustainability, Kerr’s decision was met with a lukewarm and even indifferent public response.
The tipping point
Nevertheless, it turns out that Kerr and FortisBC were on to something. A significant change in public attitude toward global warming in the following years reached a tipping point in 2007, when British Columbia implemented the BC Climate Action Plan: legislation calling for reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one third of 2007 levels by the year 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050.
This legislation meant new standards for energy service providers and developers across the board. Suddenly, gone were the days of offering sustainability as an optional selling feature like in-suite laundry or stainless steel appliances. A serious mandate had been set for a dramatic reduction in energy consumption, and it became apparent that this demand would only increase as 2020 drew nearer.
For Kerr, following his instinct early on paid off. Geoexchange systems are now recognized as an energyconscious alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems, and developers who invested in them early are now reaping the marketing rewards.
“Geoexchange wasn’t fully appreciated by home purchasers at the time”, said Kerr. “Now homebuyers are asking questions related to sustainability and we are definitely ahead of the curve.”
Building a legacy
FortisBC removes the risk of building sustainable energy solutions for developments like Waterstone Pier, making it possible for trailblazers like Kerr to set an example for his industry. In addition to primarily managing traditional energy assets, FortisBC provides integrated energy solutions for developments ranging in size from condominium buildings to comprehensive district energy systems.
For a monthly fee to strata, FortisBC oversees the loop field system and thermal energy used at Waterstone Pier. Because less conventional energy is required, bills for energy produced by a geoexchange system are insulated to a degree from the price volatility of conventional energy sources.
According to Jones, “Waterstone Pier’s strata — which we bill monthly for the use of the FortisBC loop field system — has cost-certainty over the life of their geoexchange contract with us.”
As a result, the energy solution at Waterstone Pier is a legacy not only to the environment, but also to its residents.
The FortisBC advantage
What if you could build a state-of-the-art energy system into your next development—without having to carry the cost and the risk? With FortisBC, you can. We used to be Terasen Gas, “the gas company.” Now, as FortisBC, we’re “the district energy system, geoexchange, combined heat and power, electrical generation/ distribution, biomass, biogas and natural gas company.”
We don’t just design the energy component, we cover up to 100 per cent of the development cost. When you work with FortisBC, we have a stake in the outcome.
And you have more in your budget for the features and capabilities your customers want.
You benefit from industry leaders and energy experts with practical, real-world experience. As well as sharing the load, we help you shape your energy strategy, with knowledge that could help you meet the new provincial greenhouse gas emissions targets and take advantage of available government incentives.
Interested in learning more?