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How is Creative Energy using energy from land, sea, air, and sewage to heat and cool neighbourhoods?

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Find out how a syndicated facility structured and led by HSBC is helping Creative Energy scale up its innovative technology and heat and cool Canadian buildings

Improving energy efficiency in heating and cooling real estate is one of the greatest challenges facing cities in the transition to a net zero future.

North America’s Creative Energy, is leading the search for innovative solutions to the home and workplace heating problem. Since the founding of its steam network in downtown Vancouver in 1968, the company has pioneered district energy systems that transfer heat from a single source to multiple buildings through a network of underground pipes and heat exchangers.

It now owns and operates one of North America’s largest district energy networks, covering 45 million square feet of real estate, and has 15 more low-carbon systems in development across the region.1

The technologies deployed will use hydropower (which uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity), geo-exchange (using ground source heat pumps to transfer heat through liquid-filled pipes buried in the ground), sewer-exchange (transferring heat from waste water) and ocean-exchange (generating electricity from the thermal gradient between cooler deep seawater and warmer shallow or surface seawater).

Among its most ambitious plans is to implement one of the largest thermal fuel-switch – or natural gas-to-hydropower – projects in Canada in collaboration with Vancouver-based utility BC Hydro to supply heat to part of Vancouver’s downtown area. Another project will recover heat from the city’s sewer system and transfer it to the planned 6,000-unit Sen̓áḵw housing development in Kitsilano, on land owned by the indigenous Squamish Nation.

To help finance these and four other innovative renewable energy projects across Canada, Creative Energy turned to HSBC to secure a bespoke credit structure, leveraging the bank’s strong sustainability credentials and deep knowledge of the industry. HSBC acted as sole green loan coordinator, co-lead arranger and joint bookrunner on a CAD69 million (USD52 million) three-year green loan as part of a CAD188 million (USD142 million) financing package. The bank also provides cash management services to the company.

Creative Energy says the thermal switch project should remove almost 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) – the equivalent of 12,000 natural gas-powered cars – over 40 years. And it expects the Sen̓áḵw sewer heat recovery system will eliminate 140,000 tons of GHG emissions over 30 years compared to natural gas heating – the equivalent of 2.2 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.2 In light of rising energy and utility costs, the project could also play a vital role in ensuring residents have a reliable and affordable way to heat and cool their homes.

“We value HSBC as a key financing partner for Creative. HSBC structured and arranged the financing required to support our ambitious growth programme through a bespoke structure that demonstrated their deep knowledge of the district energy space. The financing will allow Creative to deliver reliable, low-emission energy systems and contribute to the longer-term goal of decarbonising buildings,” says Wayne O’Connor, CEO of Creative Energy.

Having established a track record of reliability in downtown Vancouver stretching back more than 50 years, and now with offices in Toronto and Seattle, Creative Energy is well placed to facilitate the switch to low-carbon energy across North America. By combining its district energy expertise with cutting-edge innovation, the company is contributing to a more sustainable future for homes and businesses.

“HSBC is proud to support Creative Energy in scaling up the use of low-carbon district energy projects across North America. They will help communities achieve emission reduction goals while ensuring residents and businesses have a reliable source of energy,” says Angie Lamarsh, Head of Sustainable Finance for Commercial Banking at HSBC Bank Canada.

Today, we and many of our customers contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. We have a strategy to reduce our own emissions and to help our customers reduce theirs. Find out more about our climate strategy in Canada and globally

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