Biodôme - Space for Life, Montreal

Biodôme - Space for Life, Montreal

Housing over 200 animal species and 400 plant species, the Biodôme has precise climatic needs and unique operating challenges. The building replicates five different ecosystems of the Americas. The tropical rainforest needs to be heated year-round, while the other four ecosystems—including two polar regions—need to be cooled year-round. Ecosystem designed a heat recovery system that redistributes energy within the building by drawing heat from the areas that need to remain cool and redirecting it to the tropical rainforest. The Biodôme no longer heats and cools the building simultaneously, which has drastically cut its energy bill.

Ecosystem also installed an open-loop ground-source heat pump system. During the summer, this geothermal system rejects excess heat from the building into the underlying water table. The heat accumulates in the water and is reused to heat the building during the winter. This system covers all of the Biodôme’s heating needs that are not already met through internal heat recovery. Additional heat from this geothermal system is used in the Insectarium, another Space for Life nature museum on the same site, which is heated entirely with geothermal and solar energy.

The energy efficiency measures have reduced the Biodôme’s energy bill by 52% and greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by 80%. The project even surpassed its targets, reaching 139% of guaranteed savings. The Biodôme’s inhabitants and visitors are also benefiting from greatly improved comfort levels.

  • 52%

    Energy Bill Reduction

  • 2008-2010

    Project Period

  • $9.6M


  • $1.3M

    Guaranteed Annual Savings

  • $1.6M

    Guaranteed Incentives


The strategies for recovering and redistributing energy between different ecosystems went well beyond the strategies that are typically used in buildings. The open-loop ground-source heat pump system is the largest geothermal system of this type in Canada.


AEE 2015 International Energy Project of the Year award

ASHRAE 2013 Technology Award

2012 Sustainable Communities Award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities

AQME 2011 Énergia Award

Customized Performance Measures

Open-Loop Ground-Source Heat Pump System

Installation of an open-loop geothermal system that transfers heat from a water source. Groundwater is drawn up, and heat is extracted from the water in the winter, while heat is rejected from the building during the summer. This water is continually returned to the water table.

Heat Recovery

Installation of a system that recovers heat generated by electromechanical equipment and by the sunlight passing through the glass roof. This energy is now being used to its full potential by being redirected to the heating system and the building’s tropical zone.

Heating System

In order to maximize the benefits of the new heat recovery system and open-loop geothermal system, the heating system was optimized to best make use of these new energy sources and maintain ideal temperatures throughout the building.


Upgrade of ventilation system to efficiently deliver warm and cool air where it is most needed, and maintain appropriate levels of fresh air.


Installation of energy-efficient lighting equipment that is quieter, with higher quality light and a more natural appearance, to the benefit of the flora and fauna.