Year in Review: Town of Caledon
The opportunities for improved sustainability are vast when considering how townships can be better managed to cut emissions, waste, and energy consumption. Caledon, a town situated an hour’s drive from Toronto, Ontario, is emblematic of such opportunities. Back in July, I had the pleasure of speaking with the municipal government’s Katelyn McFadyen, Manager of Energy and Environment, and Cristina Guido, an Energy and Environment Specialist in McFadyen’s team, about the initiatives driving enhanced sustainability for Caledon and the surrounding area.
With a marked focus on buildings efficiency and optimisation of transport networks, the municipality is a shining example of the positive impact that can be driven by local government. “Energy consumption in buildings is our number one contributor to corporate GHG emissions,” says McFadyen. At the time, Guido was working on the 2019-2024 Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Framework: “It’s a requirement of the provincial government, but we took this as an opportunity to go beyond provincial regulations and expand this to broader corporate GHG emissions,” says Guido.
“We’re assessing strategies to enhance operations and maintenance, and get our buildings to be as efficient as possible.” Reflecting on the successes of 2014-2018, the new framework highlighted that facility energy consumption in 2018 was 12.6% lower than in 2012, and CA$171,567 was spent on energy retrofits over the same period.
The strategy that has enabled this success, and will continue to reap sustainability-focused and fiscal benefits, has been orchestrated in no small part by McFadyen and her team, along with the town’s Building Operations Team. “We’re very fortunate to have the level of engagement from our Building Operations Team that we do,” says McFadyen. “They’re an incredible group of people who’ve totally embraced our corporate strategy and are actively engaged in – and excited about – efforts to leverage opportunities and retrofits to reduce energy consumption.”
At the outset of the journey, Guido was instrumental in the Town’s building benchmarking initiative, leveraging RETScreen Expert, a software developed by Natural Resources Canada, which streamlines the Town’s building benchmarking initiative as well as visualising progress on Caledon’s goals. “RETScreen allows us to normalize for variables that drive energy consumption which staff cannot control, such as weather. This allows us to isolate factors such as heating degree days, cooling degree days, and the number of days arena ice is operational in facilities.
For some facilities, we also look at recreation building booking hours and how this influences their energy performance,” says Guido. “We also use RETScreen to monitor progress towards our reduction targets. For example, our current corporate energy management plan has a target of a 9% reduction in building energy consumption, and we use the software to monitor how close we are to reaching that target,” explains Guido. Caledon is well on its way to meeting its current goals, and McFadyen enthuses that doing so is just the beginning.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.