A major announcement was made yesterday concerning the highly-anticipated development ‘The Well’ being developed by RioCan, Allied Properties, Diamond Corp, Tridel, and Woodbourne. A new mixed-use community on the former Globe and Mail site at Front and Spadina, The Well will add residential, commercial, retail, and recreational space to a previously low-rise office/industrial area, and serve as a progressive example of resilient urban development o the west side of Toronto’s downtown.
As if the project weren't already expansive enough, Allied Properties and RioCan—two of the companies heading up The Well’s development—announced its partnership with Enwave Energy Corporation to extend the Deep Lake Water Cooling and hot water distribution networks to the site. The partnership will mean the installation of new thermal energy storage tanks underneath ‘The Well’, to provide low carbon cooling and heating services to the site and nearby properties.
Enwave is a privately-owned corporation and one of North America’s largest district energy systems, committed to providing sustainable energy services in cities across the continent. With over 1 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail, and some 1,800 residential units over seven mixed-use towers, the westward Enwave extension will enable a significant expansion of the network. Set for phased completion over the next several years, projected demographic statistics for 2022 expect an increase in population in the area of nearly 70,000 from at least 40,000 new dwelling units. The Well poses to address at least some of these numbers, and Enwave will in turn benefit the area's future residents, bringing more sustainable energy solutions.
Aligning especially well with Toronto’s efforts for urban resilience and its commitment to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions (partially dictated by Toronto Green Standard for new development projects), Enwave seems an obvious partner to provide energy solutions to the site and the surrounding area at large. The process includes installing a thermal energy storage facility below The Well’s six underground levels which otherwise consist of parking, loading, below grade retail and other back-of-house uses.
Two 6-million-litre tanks will store temperature-controlled water fed by Enwave’s current Deep Lake Water Cooling system and its recently developed high-efficiency hot water network, able to service over 20 million square feet of commercial, retail and residential space at The Well and beyond. This will be the first low-carbon, resilient cooling and heating energy system in Toronto’s downtown west, and is set to provide long-term benefits both to the area and the City of Toronto, in its objective to reduce emissions and set exemplar standards for energy usage in cities around the world.
Carlyle Coutinho, Enwave Canada’s President and Chief Operations Officer, said in a prepared statement "The development is a reflection of our joint commitment to build resilient, urban communities incorporating intelligent energy solutions and utilizing future-focused technologies."
Michael Emory, Allied Properties’ President and CEO noted the importance of this partnership as a continuation of Toronto’s bar-setting approach to environmentally conscious community-building. The Well is to serve as a prime example of forward thinking urban development, focused as it is on "resilience and the need to decarbonize municipal energy supplies." While The Well will act as an anchor site for Enwave’s energy service system, the benefits of the thermal energy tanks will be realized beyond the site in the greater King West community which will have access to the low-carbon cooling and heating sources. Enwave's current heating and cooling network operates through central Downtown Toronto. With the expansion to The Well, its energy network could extend further north to service more of the city’s downtown west and northwest areas.
How Enwave's Deep Lake Water Cooling system differentiates itself from other forms of energy distribution and usage is by effectively decentralizing the supply of energy away from reliance on the central electricity grid. A network of underground pipes that connect to Enwave’s existing system will extend throughout The Well site and its surrounding area, able to distribute and store thermal energy during off-peak times of energy usage. Energy will recycle or ‘loop’ heated or cooled water throughout buildings depending on their typical hours of highest use. Residential buildings, for instance, will be on a ‘Residential Loop’, serviced according to their hours of energy usage, typically between 6 PM and 8 AM. In turn, 'looped' energy will be conserved within the underground storage tanks and deployed as necessary, reducing strain on the energy grid and avoiding expensive peak power costs.
The first development phase of The Well has consisted in the demolition of The Well’s site, completed in late 2017, with shoring and excavation of the site's underground levels now taking place and continuing for several months. While the development is a approximately five to seven years away from completion, we'll be following its progress and keeping you up to date with any new details as they come up.
For the time being, you can find plenty of renderings and more information about the project in our database file for The Well, linked below. You can leave your own comments about it in the space provided on this page, or join the conversation in our associated forum thread, where you'll find contributor photos, news and development updates, renderings, reports and more.