City approves energy management plan

Whitehorse’s municipal buildings are about to become greener. On Monday night, city council unanimously approved a $1.2-million energy management plan.

Whitehorse’s municipal buildings are about to become greener. On Monday night, city council unanimously approved a $1.2-million energy management plan.

The plan gives the city a framework for practical ways to cut energy costs, said Shannon Clohosey, the city’s manager of environmental sustainability. The city just has to decide which “items we want to bite off first,” she said.

These could include putting air-sealing and weather stripping around windows and doors in city buildings, installing refrigerators that use less energy and using vending machine misers. These devices turn vending machine lights off when no one is near them and lower the machine temperatures.

It will take between three to four years to make all the changes outlined in the plan. Once the city makes all the changes, its energy use could be reduced by 12 per cent. Water use could drop by 16 per cent by 2016.

The city could also save $300,000 a year. This means once all the changes are made, the city could pay off the cost of the plan in about four years.

But as the city makes smaller changes now, some cost-savings should happen more quickly, said Clohosey.

Last year, the city had Ottawa-based environmental management company ICF Marbek make the plan. It included an energy audit of 23 city buildings.

The city is considering bringing services from five energy-inefficient buildings under one roof. The plan identified five buildings as potential targets: the Municipal Services Building, the animal shelter, the transit garage, the parks warehouse and another city warehouse. Heating one new building containing all those facilities would cost half of what the city currently spends on heating the five buildings combined. The city is accepting requests for proposals on the new building until the end of the month.