Our story is one of innovating and evolving over time to meet the changing needs of our customers and the energy and emissions challenges of a growing city.
West Georgia Street
A commitment to improving air quality
In the 60s, Vancouver faced huge problems from the pollution and inefficiencies involved in heating buildings using fuel oil and coal. The engineers also looked at ways to minimize the smoke, ash and heat being pumped into the air by the beehive burners used to dispose of wood waste. Their solution was a new community heating company called Central Heat Distribution, with a central plant located at Beatty and Georgia Street next to BC Place.
Vancouver’s first community energy system
When Central Heat was formed in 1968, many buildings used dirty fuel oil or inefficient gas boilers for heating. Central Heat used highly efficient gas boilers to produce steam that was distributed to individual buildings through a network of underground pipes. The company grew steadily as buildings in the area recognized the benefits of the innovative new system, and appreciated Central Heat’s reliability and competitive rates.
Steam pipe network
Full steam ahead
By 2014, Central Heat’s 14 km network of pipes was serving over 210 buildings in Vancouver’s downtown core and providing the lowest cost source of energy in the city. Long-term customers benefiting form the network include St. Paul’s Hospital, BC Place, Vancouver Public Library and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, as well as many office and condo towers in the area. The landmark Gastown Steam Clock was originally powered by steam from these pipes, and the whistle itself is still powered by the Creative Energy Beatty Street steam plant.
Delivering cleaner, more reliable energy
As well as significantly improving local air quality in the downtown core through the removal of 600 individual boiler stacks in over 210 buildings, Central Heat established itself as an integral part of Vancouver’s infrastructure. St Paul’s Hospital patients and staff depend on community energy’s reliability and BC Place is an official emergency centre due to the resilience of the system during a seismic event or other disaster.
A foundation to build on
The network created by Central Heat’s founders represents one of the largest opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and develop local sources of energy in the city. To create such a network of pipes in downtown Vancouver today would be incredibly difficult and expensive.
After being acquired by Creative Energy and undergoing a rebranding to reflect the creative thinking needed to meet new energy challenges, our vision is to continue to provide reliable service to and create new products and services for our existing customers, at the same time as building on Central Heat’s legacy to help Vancouver become greener, more resilient and more liveable.