Accumulating $275,000 in energy savings while attracting over $2.2 million in project funding

By District Staff on Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017

You might think that reducing the energy consumption of District facilities and operations would involve lots of solar panels, wind turbines, and other whiz-bang energy gizmos. 

But for District Energy Manager Monica Samuda and Energy Specialist Paul Forsyth — who comprise the DNV team tasked with reducing our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions — saving energy (and money) begins with the basics.

An 'efficiency first' approach to energy reduction

Monica and Paul are firm believers in an 'efficiency first' approach to managing energy.

That is, rather than look for energy savings by adding hi tech green technologies to our facilities, they advocate starting by getting the most out of the systems we already have.

That means taking a pragmatic, three-pronged approach to reducing our footprint:

  1. Avoid waste — Identify and address areas where energy is being used inefficiently (heating a space while the windows are open, for example)
  2. Use less — Incorporate better technologies, such as LED lighting, to reduce energy demand
  3. Renew — Make an improvement every time you maintain or replace existing technology or systems

While that may not sound as glamorous as a roof full of shiny new solar panels, consider this: Their recent retrofit of Karen Magnussen Recreation Centre, which simply involved making the existing systems, such as lighting and heating, more efficient, has resulted in energy savings of $120,000 per year, for that one building alone.

And the upgrades were virtually invisible. They pulled the entire retrofit off with no disruption to programs or services at the centre.

Best of all, not only did the upgrades make the facility more energy efficient, it made it more comfortable for patrons, too.

EXPLORE | Select the icons on this graphic to see all the recent changes to Karen Magnussen that add up to $120,000 in annual savings and increased comfort for patrons

A roadmap to continued energy savings

What's most notable about the Karen Magnussen retrofit is that it is part of a larger, carefully crafted energy savings roadmap, called the Strategic Energy Management Plan (SEMP).

The SEMP embodies Monica's 'efficiency first' philosophy, and lays out short-, mid-, and long-term actions to embed energy efficiency as part of our regular operations.

It's a comprehensive plan with lots of moving parts, but the payoff is significant. Between now and 2018, we expect to see accumulated savings of $275,000 as we continue rolling out the plan.

Meet our energy management team

So who is this dynamic energy duo quietly making a big difference behind the scenes? 

Monica and Paul are both engineers by profession, and sustainable energy advocates by passion. Monica is a Certified Energy Manager, and Paul holds an advanced certificate in sustainable energy management (SEMAC).

What most people don't realize is that, while they are District staff members, their salaries are paid in part by BC Hydro (Monica) and Fortis BC (Paul) through special programs those utilities have in place to help organizations reduce energy use.

A requirement of these programs is that staff apply for as much external funding for their projects as possible, and as it turns out, Monica and Paul are just as adept at raising money as they are saving it. 

Over the last seven years, they've attracted over $2.2 million in partner and grant funding to support the District's energy retrofits. 

What's next for our energy team?

With the Karen Magnussen success behind them, Monica and Paul are turning their attention to our three next largest energy consumers: District Hall, our Operations Centre, and Ron Andrews Recreation Centre.

Drawing from the lessons learned at Karen Magnussen, they're planning to apply the same strategy to all three centres. And while they hope their work will once more be invisible, watch for clues that they've worked their magic, such as improved lighting in the Ron Andrews pool.

Beyond facility retrofits, they're also look at improving the efficiency of our street lighting, our utilities, our fleet vehicles, and more.

And who knows? Some day soon, as our buildings reach peak efficiency, you just might start seeing those solar panels and other green energy technologies popping up across the District.

Learn more about our Strategic Energy Management Plan

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