Serious about energy savings

Serious about energy savings

It's Sustainability Week and Tuesday is energy and climate day. Today’s events include a tour of the Wolfe Island wind farm and “oil flow”, a debate on Canada’s oil industry. Each day during Sustainability Week (Oct. 6-10) the Gazette Online brings you a series of stories highlighting the week’s events and sustainability initiatives at Queen’s.

October 7, 2014


Queen’s is serious about energy savings, and two major initiatives this year are aimed at making the university more sustainable, both environmentally and financially.

In February and March Queen’s undertook a campus-wide energy audit in partnership with Honeywell, a leading energy service company, to identify opportunities where investments in new building systems could reduce the university’s carbon footprint and its utility bill. That audit has now been completed and the university is currently reviewing Honeywell’s report to determine which projects have the greatest net benefit and could be financed through the savings they generate.

[Solar panels on Goodwin Hall]
A 20 kiloatt array of solar panels on Goodwin Hall generates power and was installed as a teaching and learning tool for applied science students in 2002.

Queen’s also ran an electricity peak demand management program over the summer that saw comfort air conditioning systems shut down during times of peak provincial energy demand.

“Queen’s is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through conservation and reducing our energy usage, and that also carries the potential for cost savings,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “With our air conditioning shutdowns this summer it got a few degrees warmer here in Richardson Hall on a few afternoons, just like other buildings on campus, but our efforts mean reduced peak demand provincially and important savings for the university. I thank everyone on campus for their cooperation this summer.”

The electricity demand management program sees Queen’s participate in a provincial initiative that allows major electricity users to reduce their consumption during periods of peak energy demand. These major users then qualify for a reduction in the “global adjustment”, a charge that makes up a significant portion of our energy bill. In total 16 buildings on campus saw air-conditioning systems shut down on roughly a half-dozen afternoons over the course of the summer.

“We predict peaks based on weather and energy demand forecasts and managed to match our conservation efforts with four of the five peaks this summer,” says Nathan Splinter, Energy Engineer in the Sustainability Office, who manages the program. “That’s a good result even though we missed one peak early in the summer when we did not know how the summer demand would shape up and did not believe a shutdown was warranted.”

Mr. Splinter says that the program helps the province and the university be more environmentally and financially sustainable.

“The province created the program to help reduce the need for building new generation capacity in order to meet the peak summer demands each year,” says Mr. Splinter. “Our efforts in 2012 from air conditioning shutdowns resulted in roughly $115,000 of direct savings and our expanded efforts in the summer of 2013, a very hot summer, will result in about $1 million in avoided costs on our 2014 electricity bill.”

While it is too soon to calculate the exact savings from this year’s initiative, Mr. Splinter anticipates it should be similar to last year. More information about these energy savings programs and other energy-reated initiatives can be found on the sustainability website.

As part of their sustainability efforts, the AMS has ‘green’ powered the entire student life centre for Sustainability Week and are green powering their offices for the remainder of the year.