In the back corner of Edmonton Community Services’ Wildwood building, a small group of employees have a unique view not only of the sheer magnitude of the City’s operations, but also how it will grow over the next 10 years.
The City of Edmonton’s Office of Energy Management (OEM) gathers, maintains and analyzes data about the City’s use of electricity, natural gas and water, no small task when you realize the City owns about 2,000 ‘assets’ – buildings and other energy-consuming installations such as underground sewer pumps. Then there are energy-generating installations such as solar and combined-heat-and-power installations.
“We have two primary purposes,” says Supervisor Sandra Durante. “We’re aware of the City’s energy performance and ways to prevent energy waste; and we are always looking for opportunities to work with asset owners and operators to help them find ways to use energy more efficiently.”
“And we’re deeply involved on the financial side. We not only negotiate long-term contracts with utilities, but we’re also involved in helping our City clients and Corporate Budget Office to project energy use costs into the future.”
A couple of years back, the OEM – which is part of Facility and Landscape Infrastructure Branch – supported the successful negotiation of a 10-year electricity contract with Enmax, an enormously complex process that required the Office to use historical consumption data as the basis for projecting 10 years of electricity use on virtually an hour-by-hour basis.
“There was a ton of money involved, so we had to incorporate seasonal patterns of use, then break it down to daily and hourly projections, combine that data with City and industry growth projections for the next decade, and finally all that data to forecast annual energy consumption into the future,” says Michael Henighan, OEM’s energy data analyst.
Michael says the City uses about 300,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year.
Michael says staff welcome requests from various City departments to help them become more energy efficient and reduce the carbon footprint from building operations.
The OEM can study building performance and operations patterns, then recommend everything from mechanical to behavioural changes – such as automating the turning off of facility lights rather than relying on human memory – to hands-on physical or structural improvements that will reduce energy consumption.
Recently, for example, OEM hired consultants to study air leakage in 10 City facilities, including small pools and large community recreation centres as well as regional police stations and Fleet Services garages.
The buildings were identified through profiling and an analysis of historical energy costs per square feet. The facilities chosen for assessment generally paid more for natural gas than other similar buildings, indicating potential for air leakage remediation treatment.
“The consultants tested air quality, interviewed occupants of the buildings, and used smoke pencils, thermography and physical indicators such as dust streaks on walls and ceilings to locate many sources of heat loss. Generally, causes involved poor seals and weather stripping,” says Michael.
OEM communicates findings and recommendations. They cannot mandate that fixes be done, so it’s up to building owners to implement recommendations.
Michael says facility energy profiling, and studies such as the air leakage tests can help inform future maintenance and operations decisions by simply making employees more conscious of the carbon footprint of each facility and ways in which energy can be conserved.
He encourages building owners and managers to approach the OEM for assistance in minimizing energy and water waste in their buildings.
“We have lots of expertise, and a sincere desire to apply that knowledge to help people both with the Way We Green, Way We Grow and the Way We Finance.”