Rize responds to district energy critique
Rize Alliance, developers behind the Wave towers in the downtown, have sent in a response to our earlier critique in April. I’ve included their full correspondence below.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your blog post regarding the Rize Wave project and Surrey’s planned District Energy system (DE) for City Centre. In particular, I would like to address some inaccuracies within your blog post, dated April 16th, 2012 “Developer opts for marketing over sustainability”.
As the Rize Development Manager for the Wave project, I have been responsible for guiding this project through both design development and the approvals with the City of Surrey. Rize is very proud of this project, for both the new homes it will provide in Central Surrey and for the innovations in design and livability.
As I’m certain you are aware, Surrey City Council has just approved a bylaw related to the DE system, acknowledging that projects already mid-stream in the approval process cannot be required to fully connect to the DE system. In the case of Wave, in process and design for over 18 months with no clear direction on DE availability or technical specifications, we could only design for the information we had at hand, which was no DE connection. As it stands, we will be proceeding with a DE connection for domestic hot water and common area heating, which has a cost we can absorb without impacting the affordability of the homes at Wave.
The provision of DE, including hydronic baseboard heaters within suites, has a significant design impact on the overall building mechanical systems and suite layouts (typical hydronic baseboards taking 2 to 4 times the amount of lineal space required by conventional electric baseboards). While this can usually be accommodated in most projects, it must be clear at the beginning of design, which was not the case for Wave.
The costs you have quoted ($2/sf) for connection to the DE system are inaccurate, as estimated by both our contractors, and the City of Surrey Engineering staff. I encourage you to contact City staff directly if you would like confirmation of their estimated costs. We have worked very cooperatively with the City’s engineering department over the last year to assist them in estimating costs of DE connection, through actual tendering (at our cost) of a hypothetical alternate design. When incorporated into the design at the beginning of a project, a full DE connection (based upon our direct experience with other DE projects and recent sub-trade bids) is approximately $4.00-$5.00/sf. When adding in individual suite metering (a fundamental of wise energy management as energy use awareness can have a 25% to 28% energy use reduction impact), these costs rise to approximately $6.00/sf.
While future Rize projects in Central Surrey, now that the City direction is clear, will connect to the DE system, the design development and approval status of Wave was simply too far progressed to be able to incorporate a full DE system. Had this been required at this point in design, the estimated price impact to our home owners for redesign was over $10/sf, which in a very affordability sensitive market, is substantial.
As to your comments on our marketing strategy, our goal at Wave was to spend significantly less on traditional media advertising, and to focus on the design innovations at Wave (adaptability through moveable walls and room use) which was best demonstrated with an actual home built out in Surrey Centre Mall. This proved to be a very effective way of communicating our innovation prior to the completion of the sales centre and allowed us to spend less than a typical campaign.
Please let me know if you have any further questions on Wave, our DE connection, design innovations or sustainability initiatives. As we hope to be a longstanding homebuilder in Surrey, and appreciate the work you do in informing the community, we feel an ongoing, open and factual communication serves all stakeholders.
Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss our project.
Andy Tam, Development Manager