Capital could cut energy costs

A proposed energy management plan could reduce Whitehorse's energy usage and save the city money. City council is set to vote on the $1.2-million plan Monday night.

A proposed energy management plan could reduce Whitehorse’s energy usage and save the city money.

City council is set to vote on the $1.2-million plan Monday night.

It will take three to four years to make all these changes, said Shannon Clohosey, the city’s manager of environmental sustainability. Once they’re all made, the city could save $300,000 a year, she said. This means they could pay off the cost of the plan in less than four years, she said.

“After four years, all those energy savings are cash in our pocket, basically,” Clohosey said. And this money could be used for other energy-saving projects, she said.

But the city will start to see some savings right away, she said. The plan’s recommendations could see the city’s energy usage drop by 12 per cent by 2016. Water usage could be reduced by 16 per cent by the same time.

The plan recommends the city use energy-efficient lights, like LED lights, in city buildings and install toilets that use less water. It also includes tune-ups to heating and ventilation systems in some buildings.

Ottawa-based environmental management firm ICF Marbek developed the plan. The project was funded by the gas tax and Yukon Energy. Last year, they looked at energy use in 23 city buildings. This equals about 90 per cent of the city’s floor space.

Not surprisingly, newer buildings were more energy-efficient. The Public Safety Building uses less energy per square metre than any other city building, said Clohosey.

But it’s a different story where she works, in the Municipal Services Building. It’s an energy hog. The Canada Games Centre is the only city building that uses more energy, she said. The Municipal Services Building uses more energy than any water or waste-water facility in the city.

“Those facilities have huge pumps, and multiple pumps that are running, almost constantly throughout the day and night. And this building is an office building,” Clohosey said. “It shouldn’t be using that much energy.”

To save energy, the city is considering bringing services from several energy-inefficient buildings under one roof. The energy audit identified five buildings as potential targets: the Municipal Services Building, the animal shelter, the transit garage, the parks warehouse and another city warehouse. Heating this building would cost half of what the city currently spends on heating the five buildings, she said.

“We could do some Band-Aid solutions, try to squeeze a little more out of these buildings, but there’s not a lot we can do to improve those five buildings,” she said.

The city is accepting requests for proposals on the new building until the end of the month, she said.

Whitehorse is already working to make more of its buildings energy efficient. This includes using heat wasted in making ice at the Canada Games Centre to heat the building’s showers.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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