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Cornerstone ceremony held for Kingston, Ont.’s first geothermal apartment building

Click to play video: 'Cornerstone ceremony marks Kingston’s first large scale Geothermal apartment building' Cornerstone ceremony marks Kingston’s first large scale Geothermal apartment building
WATCH: Geothermal technology is expected to dramatically reduce the building's carbon footprint – Sep 28, 2021

Construction is in its early stages for Podium Developments’ new apartment building on Princess Street in Kingston’s Williamsville District.

Podium’s managing director says it’s taken about 10 years to get to this point for the 10-storey building.

“There’s 344 units but a lot of them are very small units, studios and one bedrooms which is needed in the community,” said Bernard Luttmer.

Read more: Hundreds of Kingstonians participate in global climate strike

At 10 storeys, it’s similar to much of the development along the Williamsville Corridor, with one exception. It will be the first apartment building in Kingston to use geothermal technology.

Nastassja Pearson, development manager at Podium Developments, explains how geothermal technology works.

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“In the wintertime you’re taking heat from the earth and you’re putting it out into the space within the building,” Pearson said, “and in the summertime you’re taking the heat out of the building by air conditioning it and putting the heat back into the earth.”

It’s done with boreholes or horizontal pipes in the ground and pumps to move the air around.

Warren Mabee, director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, says, “The advantage as you go down underground is that the temperatures are much more stable, so in the middle of winter it’s warmer underground than it is above ground. In the middle of the summer, it’s cooler underground.”

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Podium estimates geothermal will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70 per cent.

“You have to anticipate that the cost of things like natural gas are going up. Certainly we’ve seen spikes this year all around the world in natural gas prices. We know that there are carbon prices that are being applied so that changes the equation for using these fossil fuels,” Mabee says.

Kingston’s mayor says the project raises the bar for future developments.

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“This is the future. This is what we want to see built in Kingston, so to be able to have a partnership now and be able to see these buildings be constructed with a lower carbon footprint, it’s exciting.”

The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in about three years.

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