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Maple Ridge using less water and energy

Maple Ridge facilities operations manager Michael Millward shows solar reflective panel now insulating top of RCMP building. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Maple Ridge facilities operations manager Michael Millward shows solar reflective panel now insulating top of RCMP building.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

Like the constant drip of a leaky faucet, Maple Ridge’s facilities department keeps trying to find ways to save energy and money as it maintains, parks, buildings and pools throughout the district.

One recent project, just completed, involved putting white, insulated reflective panels on the roof of the RCMP building to reflect back the sun’s rays and reduce air conditioning costs in the warm months.

The 30-year-old roof had to be replaced, so Solar Reflective Insulated panels were selected as the new roof covering, at cost comparable to conventional materials.

“It’s the first application of the product in B.C.,” facilities operations manager Michael Millward said Thursday.

Tech Crete in Salmon Arm makes the panels, which consist of a centimetre of white concrete attached to Styrofoam insulation. The white colour of the concrete reflects back the sun’s rays, minimizing the warming of concrete during the summer, while the insulation also keeps the building either warm or cool, depending on the weather. The panels are easily washable.

The project just completed and cost $220,000 and will last 30 years. “It’s a reusable product,” Millward pointed out.

It’s also a product that will count in LEED certification, he said. “It will help the heating and cooling system.”

Millward pointed out that Maple Ridge’s new $10-million Fire Hall No. 1 building also has a white roof to also cut cooling costs.

Just exactly what the energy saving will be is hard to calculate, however.

Millward said he’d have a better idea after looking at air conditioning bill next summer, although it will be difficult to compare that with previous summer and different temperatures.

Measures were also taken this summer to save millions of litres of water.

Washrooms in six Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows parks have been fitted with motion-activated urinals that will save millions of unneeded flushes.

Until this summer, urinals were flushed five times an hour, 24 hours a day, whether the buildings were open or not. In one day, that worked out to 4,500 litres of water down the drain, in one washroom alone.

But over the summer, the fixtures in Hammond Park, Harris Pool, Albion Sports Complex, Merkley Park, Telosky and Harris Road parks were changed.

Now, each flush uses only 1.5 litres of water.

Toilets in the district’s public works yard were also replaced with low-flow models. Now each of the 11 toilets in the building at 240th Street uses only 1.5 litres per flush.

In the women’s washrooms in Maple Ridge’s leisure centre, free-flowing shower heads were replaced with low-flow models on timers, as are already installed in the men’s change room.

The work follows upgrade in heating and lighting systems in the district’s buildings in previous years that are designed to save energy use.

A few years ago, the district also installed solar-thermal panels on top of the leisure centre.

Those panels heat liquid which is then used to pre-heat water for the washrooms and swimming pool in the leisure centre.

That step saves about $70,000 a year in heating costs, Millward said.

Next year the district will research replacement of expensive, high-maintenance lights used in parks.

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