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Subterra, Enercare partner to provide geothermal for housing

Will be offered to new multiresidential and low-rise developments in Canada

Jessica Rowe Bald, senior vice president of Subterra, third from the left, at a drilling site. (Courtesy Subterra Renewables)

Geothermal utility Subterra Renewables and energy services company Enercare Inc. will be partnering to provide heating and cooling to new multiresidential and low-rise developments across Canada.

As part of the program, Subterra will provide, operate and maintain geothermal fields while Enercare will offer the in-suite equipment such as heat pumps, Jessica Rowe Bald, senior vice-president of Subterra, said.

“This is a first-of-its-kind partnership for the industry. It’s the first time we’ve seen an equipment provider partner with a renewable energy provider,” Bald said in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada.

Subterra is a Toronto-based geothermal energy company that uses a process called geo-exchange to heat and cool buildings, thus lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Enercare, also based in Toronto, offers equipment and services for heating, cooling, heat pumps, water treatment, electric vehicle chargers and air conditioners for over one million customers in Ontario, according to the company’s website.

The Enercare, Subterra partnership

Bald said the conversation around the program was sparked by Enercare’s desire to go beyond conventional equipment and move into the renewables space. Subterra also sought to ease the process for homeowners to transition to geothermal systems.

“It really helps homeowners with technology adoption because many homeowners are not as familiar with geothermal as a utility. Enercare’s strength on (the) equipment side, it really marries both the utility and equipment aspect together,” she said of the partnership.

The program will be delivered on an energy-as-a-service model, where Subterra and Enercare will absorb the up-front capital costs to implement the system, and end users will pay a monthly fee for the service.

A focus was put on new multiresidential and low-rise developments because geothermal is easier to implement in new construction, according to Bald.

Subterra offers its geothermal energy service to condo and high-rise towers, and serviced clients such as Mattamy Homes.

The partnership will be offered to site developers across Canada. Bald said both companies expect a significant amount of adoption in Ontario because Subterra and Enercare have “strong established relationships” in the province.

Federal tax credits targeting sustainable development and geothermal energy will help spur interest in the program, she said.

Two clients in the Greater Toronto Area are finalizing deals with the partnership, Bald added. Subterra hopes to announce their names in the next three months.

"We are proud to play our part in driving the decarbonization of Canadian homes and buildings," Nick Perreten, president and CEO of Enercare, said in a release.

As for Subterra, Bald said the company will soon be announcing updates on its operations in the U.S., including in the area of campus conversions like the one being undertaken at Oberlin College in Ohio.

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