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The different exhibition rooms require many electric motors to keep air circulating and keep things comfortable.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Étienne Boucher-Cazabon)

Inexpensive lighting: brilliant!

In office areas

These spaces are lighted with fluorescent tubes.

By replacing outmoded equipment with more efficient technology, the Insectarium has reduced its energy use by close to 45%, with no effect on lighting quality. In fact, in many cases the new equipment produces brighter light, even as it consumes less electricity.

Ventilation and air conditioning: essential systems

More efficient motors

The Insectarium’s different exhibition rooms and work areas require many electric motors to keep air circulating and keep things comfortable for employees and visitors alike.

  • These motors are used to run fans that send clean air throughout the building.
  • Other motors pump the cooled water needed to chill the air used for ventilation.

All this equipment consumes enormous amounts of electricity, since it normally runs full out, all day long.

Healthy air, at a lower cost

How can we reduce the significant costs of these systems while maintaining the requisite air quality? With new, more efficient and less wasteful equipment and technology.

  • Outmoded motors have been replaced with more efficient equipment that loses less energy in the form of heat.
  • The amount of fresh air the building needs depends directly on the number of people there at the time and the temperature level to be maintained. With new VSD (variable speed drive) technology, the speed of the fans and pumps can be adjusted to match the needs of the building and its occupants. The motors no longer need to run at full speed all the time!

Geothermal energy

What is it?

Geothermal energy uses heat hidden deep in the ground and produced by the sun’s rays, rainwater runoff and the earth’s hot core. About two metres below the surface, the temperature remains at 8°C all year round. It’s a free, renewable and clean source of energy!

How does a geothermal system work?

A geothermal system consists of three components:

  1. A loop of cooled liquid (often a mixture of water and antifreeze) circulating below ground;
  2. A heat pump;
  3. A loop of liquid circulating through radiators to warm the building in winter. In summer, the liquid in the loop is cooled, to chill the air used for ventilation.

Closed-circuit geothermal energy in winter

  • To use the Earth’s heat, a heat pump circulates a liquid at a temperature lower than that of the ground through an underground pipe.
  • Underground, the liquid is heated all along its path before it returns to the heat pump.
  • The heat pump extracts the heat from the liquid, and then recirculates the liquid underground.
  • Thanks to the heat pump, the heat from the underground loop is transferred to the loop of liquid to be used for heating, which circulates through the building.
  • The heat pump has to consume electricity to make this heat transfer, but much less than before! In fact, it consumes three to four times less electricity than a series of ordinary electric heaters to produce an equivalent amount of heat.

This heating system is especially inexpensive, environmentally friendly and efficient.

Closed-circuit geothermal energy in summer

In summer, the underground temperature (8°C) is cooler than the air temperature.

To make use of this cooler temperature, the heat of the liquid in the loop is dissipated as it circulates underground.

The liquid is cooled all along its path underground before it returns to the heat pump.

The pump extracts the cold from the liquid, and then recirculates the liquid underground.

Thanks to the heat pump, the cold from the underground loop is transferred to the cold-water loop to be used to cool the air in the building.

The heat pump has to consume electricity to make this transfer, but much less than before! In fact, it consumes three to four times less electricity than a series of ordinary electric air conditioners to produce the same results.

A refrigerator to heat the kitchen?

A heat pump works sort of like a refrigerator. The cooling system in a fridge extracts heat from the food inside and evacuates it, behind the appliance. The heat pump takes heat from the ground under the building, just as the refrigerator takes heat from the food. See for yourself: your fridge is warming up your kitchen, summer and winter!

Deep in the Earth

The underground system may extend deep beneath the surface (many systems are as much as 150 m deep) or horizontally, about 2 m below the surface. Both solutions give a comparable performance – the choice depends on the nature of the soil and the land around the building.

For the Insectarium, the wells were bored vertically. Six 154-metre wells were drilled along the wooded area separating the parking lot from the main insectarium entrance. Now that the landscaping has been redone, you can’t even tell that they’re there!

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