2009 Year in Review
By Robert Colman
The past year has appeared to be a watershed in smart grid development (in some places), green building and clean technology promotion. It’s difficult to say what it will all amount to in another 12 months, but the following three stories are worth keeping a watch on throughout the new year.
By Robert Colman
1. Ontario introduces the Green Energy Act and a Feed-In Tariff
Local and international environmental and renewable energy groups congratulated the Ontario government in September for four new programs that aim to make the province a global leader in clean, green, renewable energy. The aim of the new regulations is to create thousands of jobs in the new green economy under Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
The major components of Ontario’s Green Energy Act include:
- A Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program, which allows individuals and companies to sell renewable energy — like solar, wind, water, biomass, biogas and landfill gas — into the grid at set rates.
- Domestic content requirements, which would ensure at least 25 per cent of wind projects and 50 per cent of solar projects be produced in Ontario — requirements for solar will increase by January 1, 2011 and wind will increase by January 1, 2012.
- A streamlined approvals process and a service guarantee to bring developers greater certainty.
- Regulations for setting wind turbines certain distances from houses, roadways and property lines.
- A new Ontario Renewable Energy Facilitation Office — a one-stop shop to help renewable energy projects get off the ground faster.
While there has been plenty of discussion about what else the Ontario government can do, the FIT and MicroFIT programs are receiving a fair amount of interest and are likely going to change the nature of Ontario’s power grid in the long term.
2. LEED goes mainstream – What’s next?
On August 3rd the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) launched the second phase of the LEED Canada Initiative: LEED Canada for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance 2009. This was one of many changes to LEED in Canada this year. LEED Canada for New Construction and Major Renovations were updated as well, with new weightings for a variety of elements. Meanwhile, the accreditation process for LEED APs is getting an overhaul as well.
Leading up to its 2nd Annual National Green Building Summit in Montreal on June 9 to 11, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) announced that the 100th building and the first two homes had become LEED Canada certified. During a keynote address at at the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) National Summit in Montreal, Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of the CaGBC, announced that there would be more than 6,000 LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) in Canada by the end of this year. He also noted that the City of Montreal is now making LEED Gold the standard certification for all of their buildings.
These are all clear indications that LEED is going mainstream. The question now is, how can organizations like the CaGBC and BOMA push property owners, managers and developers even further? 20 x ’15 may be one answer.
3. REALPac announces 20 x 15 goal with BOMA and CaGBC
In September, the Real Property Association of Canada (REALPac) announced the 20 by ’15 national energy consumption target for office buildings. The goal of REALpac’s 20 by ’15 initiative is to achieve the target of 20 equivalent kilowatt hours of total energy use per square foot of rentable area per year (20 ekWh/ft(2)/year), in office buildings, by the year 2015. The target is intended as an essential first step in demonstrating substantial, sector-wide emissions reductions and operating cost savings, while taking full advantage of incentives and getting in front of potential regulations. 20 by ’15 is one of the most aggressive office building energy performance targets in the world and, if achieved, would make the commercial office building sector in Canada a leader in conservation efforts. It’s also notable in that it is a target embraced by REALPac, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA Canada) and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) — all of the big players in the commercial real estate space.
For video coverage of the launch, click here.
3a. Energy certification for industrial facilities
A final honourable mention should go to St. Marys Cement receiving a Silver Certification for Energy Excellence (CEE) this year. The CEE program assesses, mentors, and recognizes an organization’s energy management efforts and plans for the future. Independent energy assessors conduct an in-depth assessment of the organization’s energy performance over the past 3 years. An energy baseline is established, and a trend of improvement demonstrated. Data is verified by the UK based, National Energy Foundation (NEF) which provides an independent, 3rd party evaluation based on rigorous international standards. I see this program and the efforts by organizations by REALPac, BOMA and CaGBC to be complementary. The CEE should help pull industrial facilities further with their energy saving efforts. We’ll see if it gets more traction in the coming year.