Heating for the Long Haul

Written by Pauline Müller

Counterintuitive as it may seem at first, wood energy is becoming one of Canada’s hottest and most affordable go-to fuels when it comes to the effective heating of indoor human habitats. A leader in this field, Biothermic brings Austrian brilliance to modern wood burning across the country.

Thanks to their renewable, clean and carbon-neutral fuel consumption, Biothermic’s complete indoor heating systems are exactly what environmentally aware consumers throughout Canada have been waiting for. And, as wood is inexpensive, the demand for the company’s products is growing at a significant rate.

When it comes to alternative heating sources, this company is literally leading the country’s heating industry out of the woods – with wood. According to Vince Rutter, co-founder of Biothermic, Canada’s leader in small-scale modern wood heating based in Thunder Bay and Haliburton, Ontario, wood as an energy source can – quite literally – change the future of heating. “As we need to reduce our carbon emissions into the atmosphere, we need to be looking at renewable energy sources. [Consumers] must acknowledge that climate change is a function of the amount of carbon that we emit when burning [single-use] fossil fuels,” he says.

Seeing the forest for the trees
While Rutter is an advocate of wood fuel, he is also an expert in tree care. In fact, this dynamic CEO is a professional forester, certified arborist and an honours undergraduate in Forestry Science from Lakehead University – which is why this cause is so close to his heart. “While carbon dioxide is emitted when you burn a tree, wood energy is carbon-neutral because you can regrow [the] tree and it will absorb carbon dioxide over its life,” Vince tells us.

As oil, gas, and coal are not renewable and do not have the capacity to clean the atmosphere at any point in their life cycles, wood – when managed correctly – is way up there with the cleanest of fuels nature can provide us with.

Barking up the right tree
With its laser focus on smart project planning and dedicated after-sales service, Biothermic takes the frustration out of installing and caring for top quality wood-burning heating systems for those who prefer long-term investments in good, solid technology that make sense both environmentally and financially. “Our clients are typically [early adopters and] pioneers in modern wood heating. We serve our clients with honesty, providing detailed whole-system planning and after-sales support,” says Vince. Any possible challenges are identified and dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Commercial clients are increasingly more interested in modern wood heating and therefore, it isn’t just homeowners who benefit from the company’s services. Biothermic’s portfolio is quite broad, with the team installing everything from district energy systems for entire towns to single boilers for home use. With Fröling biomass boilers from Austria as one of its central products, the company also provides its customers with thermal storage tanks, plumbing equipment, heat distribution equipment, chimneys, wood chippers and complete heating systems, as well as wood pellets and chips for larger clients.

Knocking on wood
With the Biothermic team in charge, there is no need to go out on a limb to get a heating system installed. The process is simple; commercial clients typically approach the company to discuss their heating needs for schools, warehouses or other large spaces. A detailed overview is done of the project’s scope in terms of budget, finance, heat load, fuel sources, installation site, size, and more. Once the plan is developed, a feasibility study is launched, covering engineering demands and other important details.

Once the groundwork is laid out, building commences and wood supply is carefully matched up with the boiler capacity. And, when Biothermic is not managing projects for its own clients, it supplies heating systems and other products to external project managers. Due to the nature of the product, the Biothermic team is well-seasoned in working with lengthy timeframes, as heating systems are typically large purchases that are planned and budgeted for well in advance.

New technology
In contrast to low-tech wood boilers, Biotech heating systems are far superior, offering clean, efficient and fully automated heating, giving modern wood heating all the sophistication that older systems lack. Because everyone’s heating needs differ, the company meets a significantly large range of heating demands that fall into three categories: fire heating systems fuelled by logs; another fuelled by wood pellets; and lastly, wood chip heating systems.

All of these award-winning systems are highly efficient while being easy to use, self-cleaning, and often self-fuelling. They are particularly popular for being incredibly quiet.

Experts in the woods
In search of a fresh challenge, Vince and his brother, Mike, founded the company in 2014. Mike Rutter brings his vast knowledge of hydronic heating and natural resource management with the Ontario government to the team. He is also a certified Hydronic Designer and is an honours graduate, holding a Master of Science in Geophysics from the University of Western Ontario. With their sound practical and scientific backgrounds, the two brothers hit the ground running early on.

Since the company’s inception, the team has converted large numbers of Canadians into adopting modern wood burning systems as a means to help clean up the way in which the country heats small and large spaces alike, becoming national experts on the topic in the process. Breaking into the market early on provided Biothermic with a massive head start that has resulted in multiple invitations to represent the industry on panels, groups, and events where they advise policymakers, mayors and cabinet ministers on the future of heating and the contribution that modern wood heating can make in the process.

At present, Vince and Mike act as industry representatives on a solid fuels working group that forms part of Canada’s Clean Fuel Standards Initiative, and on the Canadian Standards Association’s (CSA) Solid Biofuels Committee. They have addressed audiences at wood energy forums as well as classes at the Universities of Toronto and Lakehead, and have collaborated on intergovernmental workgroups. Their argument is solid. “If you consider that it is clear that we need to take action on climate change, [along with] the price of oil and gas continuing to rise, it only makes sense that wood is going to become [an increasingly large] part of our energy mix,” says Vince.

The future of heating is in modern wood burning
With the importance of modern wood burning systems growing alongside the urgency of establishing carbon-neutral heating sources, Biothermic makes getting these systems installed easier than ever before. With this committed team on standby, easy, modern and clean heating is but a phone call away.

Of course, with better awareness comes better understanding. Therefore, it is heartwarming to know that there is a company out there that is ushering in an unexpected and brave new means of harnessing an ancient heating method – one that helped our ancestors survive eons of bitter cold Canadian winters in a way that is not only kind to the earth but also quintessentially modern, simple and a fantastic long-term investment.

We all know that knowledge is power. At Biothermic, however, that power lies in the solid biofuel provided by home-grown, Canadian wood. That’s because its leaders see no logic in burning money – or fossil fuels – when wood combusted in one of its top quality, modern boilers is a cleaner, smarter and more sustainable way to stay warm in winter.



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