A small transformer station in Waterloo will be the first test site in Canada for a new, greener way to heat and cool buildings. The technology, called geo-piles, combines geothermal heating and cooling with the steel piles that are commonly used in many building foundations.

We are pleased to share an article from The Record on our Innovia Geo-Pile Demonstration project. You can find the article here and learn more about our commercial innovation projects here.

Ground source heat pump (GSHP) based heating and cooling systems utilize energy within the earth, well below ground level, to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.  GSHP systems are well known for being the most efficient form of heating & cooling system for buildings, especially when combined with Variable Refrigerant Flow systems.  However, they are also known for their expensive installation costs due to the deep vertical wells required for efficient systems, which can typically be 600’ deep.

Grand River Energy (GRE) is pleased to be working with Innovia Geo Corp. and its Demonstration Project in Ontario to showcase and measure a new approach to reduce the installation costs of deep vertical wells using a “geo-pile”.  The geo-pile integrates heat exchange functionality into structural foundation piles commonly used in building construction to substantially reduce GSHP implementation costs.


As a company focused on “Distributed Energy Resources” (DER’s), GRE is particularly interested in this technology because of its potential to “electrify” heating and cooling systems in buildings.  Furthermore, heat pumps are a form of “DER” that can be dispatched to reflect electricity market signals and potentially other electricity market revenue streams, especially when one considers the thermal storage component of geo-piles.

The single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in buildings is from fossil fuel heating systems and with an electricity grid that is virtually carbon-free, Ontario building and homeowners may soon be able to tap into more carbon-free, efficient and commercially viable systems with geo-piles.

Innovia Geo Corp initiated the project and secured the funding from the IESO GRID Innovation Fund, the Ontario Centres of Excellence and MITACS.  A research team from Ryerson University has been retained to model and verify the performance of the system.  GRE helped locate a suitable site to host and showcase the demonstration project at Waterloo North Hydro, who has actively pursued geothermal energy projects already for its new office building and sub-stations.