When walking across the Cambie Street Bridge, one can not miss the flues protruding from the False Creek Community Energy Centre, which is neatly tucked beneath the bridge. The design challenge was to fit the plant under the bridge so as not to interfere with the public right of ways and to be as unobtrusive as possible. The design was well met; three-quarters of the Energy Station is underground, though the complex machinery is clearly visible by the public through portals from street level.
The Neighbourhood Energy Utility, or NEU, provides space-heating and hot water to heritage buildings and new buildings in Southeast False Creek, including those in the Olympic Village.
The NEU system has a flexible infrastructure that can adapt to a wide variety of renewable waste energy options. By using sewage heat recovery to supply approximately 70% of the annual energy demand, the system eliminates over 60% of carbon emissions associated with heating buildings.
The NEU system also supports the use of radiant hot water heating systems in buildings, eliminating the conventional space heating options, hot water tanks and furnaces and their costs of maintenance. The system helps building developers meet the energy efficiency and green building requirements for Southeast False Creek. It is more cost effective than other green energy options, such as geo-exchange.
The stacks extend into a sculpted stainless steel hand with the 22-meter-long fingerlike flues ending with LED lighted nails. The fingernails change colour to reflect the amount of green energy being produced by the system. The exhaust flues have different functions; three are from natural gas boilers, one is an odour system and one is linked to an emergency generator.