A Blend of Old and New 
Lady Meredith doesn't look her age


where: Montreal, QC
what: 615 m² (6,600 ft²)
when: 1991

Not only was the Engineering & Design Department at McGill University able to restore one of the campus' architectural landmarks but, by deciding to incorporate a ground-coupled heat pump system in Lady Meredith House, annual heating and cooling costs were cut by almost 40%. 

It was obvious to the architects and engineers that the three-story building would have to be restored to its Victorian magnificence following heavy damage from an arsonist's fire, but it was less obvious how the integrity of the structure could be maintained when a conventional energy system would need large air ducts or outdoor condensing units if used. 

So the university drilled seven vertical boreholes and installed 3,000 metres of high-density polyethelene piping in the facility's backyard, connected to six earth-energy units that could provide nearly 400,000 BTU/hour of cooling and 225,000 BTU/h of heating capacity, and cut annual operating costs from $12,700 to $7,900. 

The capital cost was $112,000, about one-third higher than a conventional system. With annual operating savings of almost $5,000, the simple payback was less than six years. 

The minimal mechanical room that is required for a ground-coupled heat pump was a bonus for the building, which has high ceilings, drop beams, and limited service shafts. 

While Lady Meredith is not a conventional school, it has a similar load profile, and has demonstrated to McGill University and Montreal-area school boards, that earth energy systems can provide a real alternative to conventional boilers and cooling towers. Operating and maintenance costs are lower than average and, in many cases, offer the lowest first cost for installation (especially when drilling is easy). 

  • engineer                             McGill Physical Plant
  • installing contractor         Le Groupe Prodapec
  • manufacturer                     WaterFurnace


"These sheets are made possible through a contribution from Natural Resources Canada."