Zibi has recently announced the launch of its new district energy network. Our Comms Officer Keenia Dyer-Williams catches up with One Planet Living® Manager Ben Gill to discover what a district energy network is, and why Zibi’s is so significant
Revitalising downtown Ottawa with One Planet Living
Zibi, which means ‘river’ in the Algonquin Anishinaabe language, is a waterfront area located next to downtown Ottawa and its neighbouring city of Gatineau, overlooking both the Ottawa River and Chaudière Falls.
Redeveloped from industrial brownfield land once dominated by a paper mill, the 37-acre site will include commercial and retail properties, condominium developments, a hotel, waterfront parks and open spaces and a network of pedestrian and cycling paths.
Over three million square feet of development is planned on a site that covers two river islands between Ottawa and Gatineau and land in Gatineau. Developers Theia Partners and Dream Unlimited, working with Bioregional, have used the 10 principles of the One Planet Living framework to help guide sustainability and eco-friendly planning for Zibi. A sustainability action plan based on the principles was endorsed in May 2015. The first residents moved in at the end of 2018.
Zibi's One Planet Living targets
- A district-wide energy system that will provide Zibi with zero-carbon energy using waste heat from a nearby paper mill
- Working together with the Algonquin-Anishinabe community in ways that generate lasting and tangible benefits to present and future generations; creating a new model for how private developers engage with First Nations in Canada.
- 90% reduction in transport greenhouse gas emissions compared to the regional average, thanks to prioritising walking, cycling and charging points for electric vehicles.
- This will be a highly walkable area, with every home within 500 metres of workplaces
- Radically increasing biodiversity (by 400%) above existing levels on the site
- Housing opportunities for a diverse range of renters and buyers, and preferential allocation in some of the commercial space to local and socially responsible businesses
- Bringing new life to up to seven heritage buildings on the site
Culture and community
Zibi is successfully nurturing its unique cultural identity that reflects the history of the site and the First Nations community. The Memengweshii Council updated its Shared Values video and organised a 13 Moons art project installation for Tesasini Park. The One Planet Ambassador has also inspired a range of activities to promote sustainability culture amongst construction staff
Equity and local economy
A Resident Sustainability Committee was set up within the first year of the first occupancy. Zibi has currently exceeded its 7% social housing target, with 53% of Aalto's units falling within its affordable housing program. This % will fall as more market units get built, but the early delivery of affordable units demonstrates Zibi's commitment to this target
Land and nature
The Tesasini Park will offer an additional 6,100 square meters of river-front park space upon completion, bringing Zibi halfway to its goal of 14% of the site being parks. Native plant species have increased from 43 to 49 this year, 39 of which have been reintroduced. Of these, 28 are culturally significant to First Nations people, up from 24 last year.
Successful new system of monthly visual waste audits shows excellent recycling levels exceeding local baselines. Absolute waste quantities are also low, exceeding targets. Construction waste also exceeded the 90% diversion target
An Advisory Council on Integrity was set up by the Algonquin-Anishinabe, to ensure the integrity and appropriateness of the Zibi development on issues of First Nations culture, heritage and socio-economics.