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Partners for Climate Protection

Comox Valley Regional District, BC

Milestone 5

Population PCP member since GHG reduction target
63,538 March 2008
  • Corporate: 10% below 2009 levels, by 2015. (Note: This target was exceeded and a new target is currently being evaluated.) Community: 50% below 2007 levels, by 2030. 

Solar demonstration project in Comox Valley Regional District, BC

"Through the implementation of our corporate energy plan, the CVRD was able to exceed its corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target and achieve carbon neutrality. We continue to do this by purchasing verified carbon offsets and supporting local GHG reduction projects. We are committed to being a leader in this area by continually working towards reduced corporate GHG emissions and implementing programs that enable community GHG emissions reductions."
Bruce Jolliffe, Comox Valley Regional District Chair

 

In 2010, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) completed the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy (CVSS). The plan was the result of a joint initiative of the CVRD, the Village of Cumberland, the Town of Comox and the City of Courtenay, and will guide the policies and plans of the regional and local governments for decades to come. It outlines a broad sustainability approach as well as recommendations for specific actions to be taken by local governments, community organizations and citizens. The District received support for the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy from FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF 9750).

Among the recommendations put forth in the sustainability strategy, the CVRD has moved on a number of measures, including completing a home energy incentive program, installing renewable energy demonstration projects, and improving active and sustainable transportation amenities such as new transit shelters, bike racks and cycling signage. 

In 2011, the CVRD adopted a Corporate Energy Plan, which identifies specific actions to be implemented as well as a strategy for monitoring and reporting on those initiatives. The District is also a signatory to the B.C. Climate Action Charter, which commits local governments to becoming carbon neutral in their operations and to creating energy efficient communities.

Key projects and results

Retrofits save on energy at Comox Valley Sports Centre

As one of the highest energy consumers in the District, the Comox Valley Sports Centre underwent a series of energy efficiency retrofits starting in 2013. The CVRD worked with BC Hydro and FortisBC to determine the facility's baseline energy use and recommend improvements. Retrofit measures to date have included updates to mechanical systems, such as variable frequency drives on pumps and new air handling units, as well as new lighting and controls. A recently updated energy assessment by FortisBC showed that reclaimed energy from the ice plant could be used for pool water and space heating, and the CVRD is securing funding to implement that measure.

Environmental 

  • Annual energy consumption was reduced from almost 18,000 GJ to 12,000 GJ.
  • GHG emissions were reduced from 484 tonnes/year to 300 tonnes/year.
  • Implementation of the ice plant heat reclaim project will further reduce GHG emissions to less than 150 tonnes/year.   

Economic

  • The retrofits have saved approximately $40,000 per year in reduced energy costs, which has helped offset higher electricity and natural gas rates. 

Social

  • The retrofits have raised awareness within the community about issues of energy use and climate change.
  • Savings on energy and operational costs benefit the District's taxpayers.
  • New lighting and controls in the ice rink provide an enhanced user experience.

Demonstration projects showcase the potential of solar power

Four solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed as demonstration projects in early 2013 at the Oyster River and Fanny Bay fire halls, the Royston south sewer project office, and the Little River water services building. All four installations were connected to the electricity grid via BC Hydro's net metering program. Under the program, the CVRD receives a credit on their account when the photovoltaic systems generate more electricity than is used by the building.

A full two years of operational data from these facilities have confirmed the viability of solar PV systems in the District. Tours, open houses, informative videos and live monitoring of electricity production help the regional district promote the potential of solar energy to the community.  

Environmental

  • Since installation, the four systems have generated approximately 35,000 kWh of electricity.

Economic

  • Electricity savings are in the order of about $2,000/year.
  • The data have shown that the costs of installing the demonstration solar PV systems are approximately the same as paying for electricity - roughly 11-12 cents per kilowatt installed. In other words, investing in solar power makes economic sense.

Social

  • The projects have generated increased interest in the community, and residents are more confident about the return on their investment if they wish to install similar systems.
  • The demonstration projects also led to a community works funding project to set up a PV demonstration system on Hornby Island. One objective is to offer a bulk-buy opportunity for residents.

Residents benefit from free home energy assessments

The CVRD offered a home energy incentive program in 2013 and 2014. During the second year of the program (February-December 2014), the District offered local residents a free home energy assessment. Energy advisors first conducted a blower door test and a home inspection to identify air leaks around doors and windows. Where feasible, the energy advisor then sealed the leaks and conducted a second blower door test to measure the change. Advisors also provided information on where additional energy savings could be found. This program has now ended and the CVRD is partnering with the province on a similar program that will target houses using heating oil. This is an important initiative for the District's rural areas, where 50% of building emissions are from the use of heating oil, and natural gas is not available.

Environmental

  • Over the course of the second phase of the home energy incentive program, the homes involved collectively reduced electricity consumption by about 20,000 kWh and about two tonnes of GHGs.

Economic

  • BC Hydro estimates that simple draft proofing measures save about 10% in annual energy costs.
  • The program represented a $500 value for each participating home.

Social

  • About 50 homes took part in the program, and participants were reportedly pleased with the in-house consultation with energy advisors, who provided customized advice. 


Challenges

  • At times, CVRD staff needed to be convinced of the benefits of prioritizing projects that respond to energy and climate issues — there was a learning curve to overcome among local government decision makers.
  • Trying to maintain momentum for sustainability programs can be difficult when grant funding tends to be limited in terms of time or total dollars. 

Lessons learned

  • Try to develop stable funding sources for programs. In BC, carbon offsets help in this regard. For example, the CVRD allocates a fixed budget per tonne to purchase carbon offsets for municipal operations and has been purchasing them for less on the open market. The remaining money is then invested in energy retrofits or community projects.

Page Updated: 29/01/2016