District looking for more energy savings

  • Mar. 11, 2011 8:00 p.m.

The province’s new carbon tax will cost the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District close to $37,000 for the 2010 fiscal year, far less than the $100,000 to $200,000 the district was expecting.

The province has given districts a computer program to calculate their total carbon footprint, upon which the tax is determined. Districts must take into account everything from electrical use to the total number of sheets of paper consumed.

Rick Delorme, School District No. 42’s director of facilities, said the local district will likely fare better than others because it has no  school bus fleet, and staff has worked hard to educate students and administrators about energy consumption.

Delorme said he hopes to have a B.C. Hydro Smart Meter installed in every school office so administrators can try different energy reduction techniques.

“They will be able to experiment, and see the results right away,” he said.

The district has budgeted close to $250,000 for electricity for the 2010/11, as well as $925,000 for its gas bill. Along with garbage collection, water use, and sewerage fees, the district spends $2.17 million to operate its 30 facilities.

“Right now, we plan to come in well under that,” thanks to energy reduction savings, said secretary treasurer Wayne Jefferson.

The recent closure of Mt. Crescent and Riverside elementary schools has allowed the district to consolidate services, eliminating the use of 21 portables. That has led to a savings of more than $100,000 in electricity and gas alone.

“They are very inefficient structures,” said Jefferson. “They are meant to be temporary facilities, so they have thin walls, inefficient furnaces … and the floors aren’t well insulated.”

Jefferson said he hopes to take more portables out of commission in the coming year.

The varying designs of the district’s many schools also present their own challenges.

Thomas Haney secondary was designed with large open air spaces, making it  expensive to heat. Meanwhile, Westview secondary features a 84 individual heating and cooling units, as opposed to a centralized system.

As a result, Westview consumes only 2,750 kilowatt hours of energy per day, compared to Thomas Haney, which uses close to 4,500 per day.

Garibaldi secondary features an efficient  geothermal heating system that has greatly reduced that school’s carbon footprint since it was installed two years ago.

One of the many more affordable options to reduce energy costs is to upgrade lighting

“That’s our biggest consumer of electricity,” said Jefferson.