How do you know you’re being as efficient with energy as you possibly can? For most of us, when it comes to our own homes, if we’re paying $200 less on our hydro bill then it’s possible it’s because we’re more energy efficient. But that’s not very scientific, is it? The City of Guelph is getting some assistance on creating a rigorous measurement of the their energy saving efforts, and it comes with the assistance of the Federal government.
On Tuesday, in a combined announcement from Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield, and City of Guelph senior staff, it was revealed that the City is getting $200,000 from the Federal government. The money, which will be combined with $435,000 from the City, will fund the creation of an energy management system that will include all City assets from buildings to fleet vehicles and streetlamps.
“The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency measures alone could get us as much as halfway towards our ambitious climate change goals for 2030,” Longfield explained. “That’s what today is all about because the best energy to save is energy that we don’t use in the first place.”
To measure all the energy that is used, and not used, the City will be implementing something called an ISO 50001 Energy Management System Standard. This is a structured framework for energy efficiency that’s voluntarily implemented, but internationally recognized as the highest possible standard. Companies like 3M, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and Guelph’s own hydro utility Alectra all used the ISO 500001 to measure energy, reportedly saving on average about $2 million per year depending on the size of the company.
“It’s a practical real world way of reducing our energy consumption and emissions by auditing the work that we do to reduce energy,” Longfield explained. “It’s really about proving that we’re doing what we say we’re doing, a way of auditing ourselves, but also having an international standard for which we can be audited against. We know that it’s simply a great way to improve energy efficiency by meeting these standards, and then enhancing energy performance, reducing operating costs, and doing the things that Guelph does well, and that’s getting us to a better climate future.”
According to the City of Guelph, using the ISO 50001 system will allow them to set targets to reduce energy use and costs, create data sets to understand energy use decisions, and will give them various evaluation tools to improve energy management. In order to use the standard, the City will need to conduct an energy review, establish an energy baseline, come up with action and implementation plans and timelines, and set up reporting and documentary measures.
“We’re going to be able to develop a corporate-wide management system for our energy across so many facilities within our city, and it will strengthen the systems that we already have in place and push us a little further to be able to manage around 100 facilities,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “This will put a globally recognized standard for energy efficiency and performance within City facilities and assets, and it will help us reach targets to reduce energy use and costs, as well as helping the environment.”
But what about helping the bottom line of rate players? The Deputy CAO of Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services said that it might take some time, and some capital investments, but it will mean savings for the City in time.
“Ultimately, we want to be able to use our energy more efficiently, and that would mean the energy rates that we pay in order to run those facilities would be less,” said Jayne Holmes. “What we’re trying to do is be more efficient, and use more sustainable sources of energy moving forward, and that initially might mean that there would be some capital costs associated with making that change. In the end, we’re trying to make sure that we’re reducing our costs while being as efficient as we can with our energy.”