City council discussed the contract for a new waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre on Nov. 16. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

City council discussed the contract for a new waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre on Nov. 16. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

New waste heat recovery system expected to save city $85,000 each year

Cost of putting in the system increases by $200,000

Upgrading the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre is expected to cost the City of Whitehorse $200,000 more than it had planned to spend, while also saving $40,000 more annually than originally anticipated.

At Whitehorse city council’s Nov. 16 meeting, Richard Graham, the city’s operations manager, brought forward a recommendation that council approve a capital budget change for the project from a total $455,000 to $655,000 with the additional $200,000 to come from the city’s portion of gas tax funding.

Along with that, Graham also recommended the provisional operating budgets for 2021 and 2022 decrease by $42,500 and $85,000 respectively to reflect the energy savings the city expects to see with the upgrade.

It’s anticipated the new system — which uses energy from CGC’s arenas to heat other parts of the facility — will see payback in 7.7 years compared to 10.1 years that were initially anticipated.

It’s also proposed that the contract to install the system be awarded to Budget Plumbing & Heating. While the total project cost is $655,000, the contract for the installation would be $494,333.

As Graham explained in his report to council, the design work on the system wrapped up in August, showing the construction cost would be “significantly more than originally budgeted.

“Fortunately, higher-than-expected cost savings and GHG reductions indicated that the project was still viable with an improved payback period,” he said. “Administration applied for an amendment to the gas tax project proposal and was approved.”

Budget Plumbing & Heating had the lowest of three bids for the work and is therefore recommended for the contract award.

Council members did not bring forward any concerns over the proposed contract, but raised questions about the projected energy and cost savings.

Coun. Dan Boyd wondered how the figures for the estimated cost savings were reached.

Graham explained data from the CGC was collected during the design phase and based on that information and calculations around past use of the building, there will be a reduction in the amount of oil burned. Graham acknowledged as well, the equipment for the system will result in some increased electrical use.

“We are pretty confident in the numbers,” he said. “There will be a direct displacement of heating oil.”

Questioned by Boyd about the city’s ability to look at the precise figures on how much the city may be saving once the system is in place, Graham highlighted the city’s energy tracker and suggested it will likely be fairly simple to calculate the figures.

Meanwhile, Coun. Laura Cabott pointed to a recent report on the city’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions, showing the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions for the city comes from the CGC.

In 2019, the city produced 7,023 tonnes of GHG, with the recreation facility responsible for much of those emissions.

That had Cabott questioning whether there are other initiatives beyond the new waste heat recovery system that could reduce the emissions coming from the CGC.

Graham replied that the city is continuing to look at other possibilities for energy savings at the CGC in the future, but the new waste heat recovery system represents a fairly simple way of cutting down on energy use.

“This project is really the low hanging fruit,” he said, also pointing to the city’s work to install new LED lighting throughout the building is expected to wrap up in 2021.

Council will vote on the contract and budget changes Nov. 23.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Whitehorse city council