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Rallying communities around geothermal heating and cooling

Pearl Leung

Pearl Leung

Digital Marketing Specialist

Did you know that heating and cooling are the main uses of energy in a home?

When Innovia GEO co-founder Andrew Lee found out, he knew he had to do something about it. Luckily, he was in a position where he could explore the positive impacts of geothermal technology.

He and co-founder Jim Ilkay had been asked to work on a townhouse development in Toronto. In a recent interview, he explained that the development had a partially constructed geothermal system. Andrew and Jim convinced the owners to let them investigate what a fully geothermal solution would look like, instead of switching back to natural gas furnaces and standard air conditioners.

It looked good on paper and, now, it looks even better in real life! 55 Toronto homeowners now have a clean, renewable energy source. The best part? It’s financed by the community.

“The community itself owns the geothermal system thanks to a green loan,” Andrew explained. “The homeowners then pay a monthly fee to the condo corporation — that fee covers maintenance costs and loan payments.”

The most exciting aspect of this community-ownership model is that once the loan is repaid, the homeowners can choose to reduce their monthly payments or use the geothermal system as an asset to secure another loan. “Those funds could be used for so many things, like building a community park,” Andrew said. “We’re really excited about how this structure can encourage more people to adopt geothermal, and how their communities will benefit from owning the system.”

Andrew is also passionate about educating anyone and everyone about geothermal heating and cooling, which isn’t widely understood in Canada. He told us to think of the system like a giant rechargeable heat battery. The Earth naturally absorbs heat from the Sun. In the winter, underground pipes filled with liquid concentrate this heat from the ground and bring it up into the building. In the summer, the process is reversed to move heat from the building into the ground. Because the system is moving heat rather than generating it, it’s much more efficient than burning natural gas or using air conditioning. “Typically, for every unit of electricity used to run a geothermal system, you get three to five units of heating or cooling,” Andrew added.

Want to learn more about geothermal tech and community-based financing? Read the full interview on our Climate Ventures website!

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