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Innovative solutions allowed historic lodge to remain fully open while heating and domestic hot water systems were modernized

Situated on 700 acres within a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta is an iconic piece of Canada’s building landscape. Built in 1922, the lodge draws visitors from around the world and is made up of 441 guest rooms and cabins. Given the age of this facility, renovations and improvements are required from time to time. Being an actively used facility, renovations could have a negative impact on guest experience – something which needed to be avoided when possible.

In order to work within a tight schedule while minimizing disruptions, Modern Niagara and other partners were brought in to support the long-term revitalization of the historic property with construction management and design services, as well as a range of HVAC, refrigeration, controls, and plumbing services.

Jasper Park Lodge faced two challenges: a complete removal and replacement of existing systems, all while providing services such as hot and cold water to its guests. Given the age of the facility, heating and domestic hot water infrastructure was beginning to become an obstacle. Maintenance staff were chasing down problems and providing quick fixes, which contributed to system inefficiency and increased costs. Domestic cold-water systems were also aging and required critical upgrades.

These projects are costly and a potentially huge disruption to day-to-day activities at the Lodge. Modern Niagara saw an opportunity to provide cost-effective and time sensitive solutions to the Lodge and approached engineering consultant MMM Group (WSP) with an alternate plan to bring the project closer to the planned budget.


The Plan

Modern Niagara’s plan was to utilize a new route for all supply lines through the Lodge. This new routing would not impact existing services and would leave the old infrastructure in place after the integration of the new system. Further, the firm aimed to reduce costs by limiting the replacement of all systems by utilizing existing systems in new ways, which resulted in the Lodge having a more cost effective and efficient steam capacity.

In Phase 1, Modern Niagara ran a new high-pressure steam, condensate, and domestic cold water feed from the powerhouse to the main tunnel of the Lodge. While running these main lines, branches were connected to cabins around the property. By doing this, existing systems could be used to heat these facilities. Systems were installed underneath each cabin to reduce pressure from the steam systems. Once this pressure was relieved, the steam provided heat and domestic hot water for each cabin. An existing hot water vault was also upgraded to service domestic hot water for nine other cabins.

Keeping the same design criteria in mind to utilize the property’s steam, Modern Niagara created a new hot water vault to service 12 additional cabins during Phase 2. Utilizing a pre-cast vault, a high-pressure steam system was installed to heat the exchange system, and then fed out to the 12 cabins to provide heating and domestic hot water.

In Phase 3, Modern Niagara created a new central heating vault to provide heating and hot water supply for 21 outbuildings and cabins around the Lodge property. Each cabin or outbuilding was again equipped with an individual heat exchange system for domestic hot water production. Phase 3 also saw the introduction of a raw water line and the installation of a water softening system to treat all domestic cold water for the property. A raw water pumphouse upgrade included the installation of two new intake pumps, flow control and monitoring valves, a PLC control panel, and HVAC upgrade.

A new water intake line was also installed. This line was fed directly into Lac Beauvert, a freshwater lake used to supply the Lodge’s entire water supply. Modern Niagara’s success during this project was helped by several key innovations. Utilizing efficient materials and processes is a crucial component to ensuring projects are completed on time and on budget. Pre-insulated piping, including steel and HDPE, allowed the teams to save time during installs around the Lodge property. The project team was also able to use couplings to limit the amount of fusion required on the HDPE piping, once again helping to meet critical project milestones on schedule. Modern Niagara’s internal controls team also designed water-to-water HEX packages, which were then installed on-site.

Obviously, adhering to a tight schedule on a project of this scale is never easy, but added to this stress was the amount of activity at the Lodge given that these renovations were scheduled during some of the busiest times of the year. Working in and amongst guests meant that the project teams had a limited window each day during which to work and had to pay special attention to cleanup. Ensuring minimal disruption and unrestricted public access to Lodge amenities was crucial.



With historic buildings comes information hurdles. Keeping detailed records of renovations, building plans, or notes can be challenging over a 100-year history. Records have been handed down over the years and may lack important details. Luckily, on-site support was available from a dedicated group of journeypersons who, in some cases, have maintained the Jasper Park Lodge for the past 40 years. These professionals provided a wealth of knowledge to the team.

The collaboration of project teams and building owners and operators is crucial to the success of any project, and that was seen in force at Jasper Park Lodge. Through a true team effort, and with the impactful help of other partners, the engineering firm was able to provide crucial upgrades to Jasper Park Lodge – upgrades which should enable this historic site to remain an iconic destination in Canada.