Heating up Mississauga’s Exchange District

At 66 storeys, the EX3 tower in Mississauga will be Ontario’s tallest geothermal powered condominium

The drilling phase for Mississauga, Ontario’s largest geothermal heating and cooling system is now complete. 

In April, developer Camrost Felcorp Inc. announced the completion of 186 geothermal boreholes, which will provide low-carbon heating and cooling to two towers at the Exchange District — a mixed-use community in downtown Mississauga.

The project will bring off-grid energy to the rental tenants in the development’s purpose-built rental tower, as well as guests of the planned boutique hotel and the 650 suites in the 66-storey EX3 condominium tower. 

“The Exchange District is an award-winning community, celebrated for its careful urban planning, distinctive architecture and smart design,” said Joseph Feldman, vice president of development at Camrost Felcorp.  “But in today’s real estate environment, we understand that those attributes are simply not enough for our market. Purchasers, renters, retailers and those who care about creating great communities, all agree that today’s communities must also be environmentally sensitive, sustainable and conscientious.”

In partnership with Diverso Energy, a geothermal energy service provider, the buildings will benefit from the low carbon heating and cooling solution, which will not require heating boilers or rooftop cooling towers. Additionally, geothermal eliminates the need for natural gas for heating. 

With more than 30 years of experience, Diverso Energy is an industry leader in the design, construction and operation of geothermal heating and cooling systems. The company works with developers of multi-family and commercial office buildings to create sustainability and energy reduction targets by offering a unique geothermal utility model. 

The inclusion of EX3 in the power system makes it the tallest residential development in the province to feature the geothermal-based approach to sustainable energy service. 

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According to Diverso Energy’s co-founder and partner, Jon Mesquita, the company has partnered “with several real estate developers across the GTA in the last few years, helping them meet ever increasing new energy and carbon targets and purchaser demands for energy efficiency,” adding that EX3, at 66-storeys, “will be the tallest condominium tower in the province to benefit from a geothermal heating and cooling system.”

TH60 Rotary Drill Rig

The drilling process was completed in less than 16 weeks, thanks to favourable conditions, aside from a period of heavy rain. Each of the 186 boreholes measures 12.5 cm wide and 183 metres deep. 

To complete the boreholes, Diverso Energy used an Epiroc TH60 rotary drill rig as it “provides the best combination of speed and power and was ideally suited to the conditions of this job.”

The TH60 has a long history of reliable performance and delivers rotary and down-the-hole drilling with 18,144 kg or 31,751 kg of pullback force. The top-head drive PTO drill rig has a strong, mid-weight design that’s ideal for water well, dewatering, geothermal and uranium drilling.

The drill is mounted on a Peterbilt 367 chassis and powered by a 600 hp Cummins X15 engine allowing it to travel at highway speeds. 

Epiroc designed the TH60 to include one of the toughest mainframes on the market. According to the manufacturer, without a rigid base, the rig is prone to flex during drilling, which can lead to premature frame failure, deviation down the hole and additional vibration on the driller’s platform. 

Compact design and proven reliability are trademarks of the TH60 rotary head. The rotary head offers a maximum torque of 8,000 foot-pounds and speeds of up to 195 rpm. Four motors reduce and balance forces on the main spindle gear, resulting in longer life and wear reduction. 

Swivel maintenance is also made easy with the use of hammer unions and safety wires. As well, the retractable rotary head clears the hole centre, allowing access for the main winch or auxiliary hoist cable.

The lattice-design derrick offers an ample strength-to-weight ratio. Once it has been lifted into the upright position by the two hydraulic cylinders operated from the driller’s console, it is bolted in place at the bottom of the tower. Derrick locking pins are optional as well. 

The Electronic Air Regulation System (EARS) comes standard with the TH60, allowing the operator to remain in control of flow and pressure. The system monitors air requirements and automatically adjusts the air inlet valve to match demand. The benefits of the system include variable air flow to control the hole and develop the well, as well as variable pressure for better down-the-hole hammer control. 

Fuel consumption is also reduced as a result of controlled flow and pressure when maximum flow and pressure is not required.  

Alongside the geothermal heating and cool, Camrost Felcorp has also partnered with Mitsubishi Electric to utilize the company’s state-of-art Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system.

VRF provides a HVAC solution typically seen in Class-A commercial settings, with features such as simultaneous heating and cooling as well as heat-recovery capabilities. While the heat recovery system has a greater initial cost, it allows for better zoned thermal control of a building and overall greater efficiencies.

The Exchange District in Mississauga

With borehole drilling now complete, shoring and excavation for the towers will now begin. 

The Exchange District is an urban master-planned community destination. The development includes three condominium towers, a rental residence and a hotel. As well, the project has been recognized as a critical urban element in the creation of the new Mississauga City Centre. 

When complete, the Exchange District will boast nearly 186,000 square metres retail, shopping, dining, office and commercial spaces, a boutique hotel, new public parks and designed open spaces.