A decade of energy-efficiency projects is placing less strain on natural gas supplies and reducing greenhouse gases across campus – all while putting money back into Western’s budget, university officials recently announced.
Thanks to dozens of efficiency projects across campus, Western has earned more than $1 million in incentives through utility provider Enbridge Gas (formerly Union Gas). That savings has been re-invested into further energy-efficiency projects at the university over the last decade.
This plan to perpetuate utility projects through savings was a first for Ontario universities and has “catapulted Western to the forefront of green house gas emission mitigation,” university and company officials said.
“Enbridge is proud to have worked closely with Western since 2009, helping them to identify and execute energy-efficiency opportunities across their entire campus,” said Jackie Caille, Manager of Energy Conservation and Industrial Sales, Enbridge Gas. “Our strong partnership with Western has led them to roughly $1.4 million in incentives over the past decade.”
Enbridge Gas has a number of energy conservation programs, approved by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). These programs allocate funds and methods, used to measure savings across Ontario for homeowners, businesses, and institutions such as universities. Senior leaders from Enbridge Gas recently acknowledged Western’s milestone with a plaque.
Since 2009, Facilities Management has initiated mid- to large-sized projects to ease the consumption of natural gas on campus. Projects including retrofitting warm water heating in the Spencer Engineering Building, reinsulating steam and condensate pipe lines, and a flue gas recovery in the Power Plant.
“We evaluate several energy projects each year,” said Elizabeth Krische, Associate-Vice President (Facilities Management). “If any of them make sense to the operation of our organization and support the sustainability missions of the university, we’ll typically move on them.”
Western has been steadily using about 22 million cubic metres of natural gas each year. Considering that the campus added nearly two million gross square feet of building space over that time and the gas meter is spinning at the same rate, the campus now uses roughly 14 million cubic metres less gas annually. Conservative estimates speculate annual consumption could have reached between 33 million-36 million cubic metres annually, should the university not have invested in these projects.
Most recently, a flue gas recovery system in the Power Plant is capturing heat from a boiler stack and reinserting it back into the system. The captured warmth can heat up the air entering the burn chamber, so gas is not wasted on heating the intake of cold air. Similarly, the recovered hot air can be used to heat the returning condensate, part of the closed loop steam system that warms buildings in the winter. These adjustments reduce consumption, further cutting our GHG emissions.
“Our team continues to find ways to improve efficiencies across the board,” Krische said. “Having the support of partners such as Enbridge Gas makes our effort even more effective.”