Sewage to Heat

Vancouver has opened what is supposedly the first neighborhood sewage to heat treatment facility inside a city centre in North America.  This was part of the Millennium Water/Olympic Athlete’s Village development.  It also fits in with Vancouver’s quest to become the Greenest City in the World.

Millennium Village is not in Vancouver’s historic inner-city but False Creek, which is nearby, has slowly been turned from industrial land into mixed residential neighborhood, the Olympic Village was intended to have social housing and be an example of a new-style green planned community, similar to Dockside Green in Victoria.

Building Opportunities with Business, in addition to working on greening the inner-city, helped train inner-city residents to work on the site as part of the CBA that was negotiated between the City and the Developer.  Another CBA is potentially in the works for the build-out of the rest of False Creek which would provide benefits to Vancouver’s inner-city.

Climate Smart Workgroup

Dear BC Business,

On behalf of Pacific Carbon Trust, we invite you to join a growing group of companies that are cutting costs by cutting carbon – and marketing their success.

Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown corporation growing BC’s low-carbon economy, is hosting a special Climate Smart workgroup in Vancouver beginning December 10th, 2009.

Climate Smart is a comprehensive program of training and resources that includes three interactive workshops, access to a web-based greenhouse gas (GHG) management tool, and one-on-one technical assistance.

Businesses leave the program with the following:
– A completed and reviewed GHG inventory, conducted according to internationally recognized standards
– An emissions reduction strategy focused on cost savings
– An understanding of the carbon offset market
– Marketing and communications ideas regarding GHG management successes

Two participants from each business can attend the half-day workshops, and Pacific Carbon Trust is offering you a two-thirds discount. The workshop series is scheduled as follows:
– December 10 – “Measuring GHGs”
– January 14 – “Reducing GHGs”
– January 28 – “Understanding Offsets and Communicating your Commitment”

Pacific Carbon Trust is honoured to invite you to participate in this special series of Climate Smart workshops for B.C.’s most innovative and trusted businesses. Please see the attached flyer for more information on the Climate Smart program and its benefits. You may sign up for the workgroup at <> . We will be in touch soon to follow up with you.

Best regards,
The Climate Smart Team

Climate Smart PCT Invite and Flyer

Energy Audits and DTES Auditors

The construction, maintenance and operation of buildings are among the most significant uses of energy. For a business or homeowner, improving the efficiency of a building is an important way to reduce energy consumption. Almost always, adaptations in behaviour can lead to immediate improvements. Physical upgrades to the building can take reductions much further. The question is how to start and the answer is with an energy audit (also, energy assessment). Before you slap on a green roof or some solar panels or change all your lightbulbs, you need to know how you and your building are using (and losing) energy. The intent of an energy audit is to examine and analyze the flow of energy in a building in order to reduce consumption. It seeks also to identify uses with regard to their cost effectiveness of energy savings. An audit will lay along a spectrum from simple examinations of an energy bill, types of lights, size of mechanical units, etc. to comprehensive analysis including tests of the building envelope and thermographic inspections. A proper energy audit will tell you how you are using your energy, where your greatest inefficiencies are and allow you to prioritize the steps you take to address them. The audit is important because our inefficiencies are not always the same and neither are the steps we should take to fix them. If good planning doesn’t sell the idea, then beauracracy will, any incentive program, such as NRCan’s ecoENERGY Retrofit Program (and the sister American program (pending further legislation), REEP, Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance), requires them BEFORE you start work. This means you won’t get government money unless you start with an energy audit. Costs range from several hundred dollars up to several thousand depending on the size and type of building and how comprehensive the audit will be. An organization like Light House can tell you more.

So, we say all of this in all earnestness, but if you can’t afford to do an energy audit, then do your own. Take the time to actually look at your utility bills and assess how much energy you’re using. Follow the points provided by Waste Reduction Week (Oct 19-26!). Proceed with the common sense changes in behaviour like dropping the thermostat a few degrees in winter and raising it a few in summer. Turn off (and for some: unplug) appliances not in use. Turn off lights. Use natural ventilation to cool in summer. Use cold water as much as you can. Purchase a $35 meter like the Kill A Watt and see what some of your major energy users are and see if you can’t use them less. See what kind of power they use when they’re off! That would surely be a good place to start.

And now to get hypothetical, I’d like to suggest that perhaps energy auditing could be an avenue of job development for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Firstly, there will be demand. Businesses and residents here are concerned about their energy use (among many vital issues). So as they seek out retrofits, they’ll need to take the logical first step.  Further, all buildings will need retrofitting at some point, and getting the most efficient building for our dollars is the best way to serve the triple bottom line. If anything, we’re needing retrofits here sooner than other areas of town simply because the buildings are older (leaky condos aside). That doesn’t mean those upgrades are a given, many buildings fall deeper and deeper into disrepair, but revitalization, what we’re talking about, means making things look and feel good to live in and that will take capital investment. So when people put the money in, it’ll be important that they start with an energy audit. And an energy audit team could be developed and trained here in the Downtown Eastside. The skills required are technical but can be imparted relatively quickly. Deeper understanding will follow from ongoing technical training and field experience. The tools required are not cheap (ladder, laptop, blower door, etc) so there would need to be some significant investment. But as the equipment needs are consistent, we could very easily establish a bicycle trailer system in place of trucks. Trust me, I did landscaping and solar installs with bicycle trailers. It works.