Energy efficient in the hockey rink of the future

WARSAW – We haven’t met him yet and Brian Millett has already told a joke.

“I’ll be ready to go as soon as I comb my hair,” he says from somewhere back in the Douro-Dummer Township office.

He walks through the door, smiling. He couldn’t be any balder.

Millett manages the township’s recreation facilities. He’s about to lead a tour of the Warsaw Community Centre for a look at some energy efficiency upgrades.

Dave Clifford, the township’s chief administrative officer, has been outlining Douro-Dummer’s progress on an energy management plan, work that began in 2010.

Reducing electricity use is the most effective way for the township to cut energy costs. Five years into the program annual electricity costs have been cut to just under $190,000, a saving of about $30,000

Using 2009 as a baseline, the township set cost reduction targets of 8% by 2014 and 16% by 2018. Clifford says they easily beat the first target and are approaching the second one, two years ahead of schedule.

Energy reduction has since been rolled into a bigger project – cutting back overall greenhouse gas emissions and making Douro-Dummer a greener community.

In that regard, the township is part of a Greater Peterborough Area initiative known as Sustainable Peterborough. The group is developing a Climate Change Action Plan that calculates total carbon emissions – public and private ­- and sets reduction targets. Sustainable Peterborough promotes, oversees and provides technical support to municipalities and has begun working with the private sector.

On the energy side, Douro-Dummer did an audit that identified its two arenas, Douro Community Centre and Warsaw Community Centre, as prime targets for savings.

A few minutes after we meet, Millett is sitting in his pickup truck outside the Warsaw centre, eager to show us what has changed.

Metal halide bulbs that cast a dim, yellowish light were replaced with brighter, high efficiency fluorescent tubes. They use substantially less electricity, even with two extra lights added over each goal area.

A high-efficiency dehumidifier installed in 2014 runs less often, keeps temperatures stable so the ice-making plant is also more efficient and put an end to the white layer of frost that coated two uninsulated interior walls on cold winter days.

Millett is equally enthusiastic about the upgraded soft drink machine. The old one ran 24 hours a day. This one has has a sensor that shuts off the fan once the temperature is sufficiently cool. Every little bit helps.

Those are among dozens of projects, large and small, in the township’s action plan. Solar panels have been installed where possible and as of November all street lights use LED bulbs.

Some potential improvements will take time. Organic waste pickup could make bi-weekly garbage collection possible, Clifford says, cutting emissions from garbage trucks in half.

One innovation targets township residents who were adding to the cost of recycling by tossing beer and liquor bottles in their blue boxes. Now they can separate out those bottles on their own at transfer stations. The bottles are returned and all deposit money is donated to the United Way – $1,800 since the program began last May.

“It seems like a small thing, but it’s something people can contribute to and it’s going to a good cause,” he says. “It’s kind of a little initiative that I think will grow.”

This is the first of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner.  By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Saturday, February 27, 2016.