Electricity Conservation Targets in Government Operations: An Update

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In December, 2011, the ECO released Managing a Complex Energy System - Results: Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report - 2010.
This was volume 2 of its Annual Report on the progress of activities in Ontario to reduce or make more efficient use of electricity, natural gas, propane, oil and transportation fuels.
Click here for more information on this report, including videos and communications materials.

For many years, the Ontario government has promoted a culture of conservation. To support this initiative, the government committed to reduce electricity use in its own facilities. The aggregate target was to reduce electricity use by 20 per cent by 2012, measured against fiscal year 2002/2003 electricity consumption levels.

This commitment was made in two stages. The first was in 2004, when the government committed to reduce electricity use by 10 per cent by 2007. The second was in 2007, when the government committed to reduce electricity use by an additional 10 per cent by 2012.

The government identified “target class facilities” and “nontarget class facilities”. This distinguished the buildings and assets to be included in this initiative. The “non-target class” facilities category was created to exclude operations where energy conservation would pose a direct health and safety risk to the public or operations. As shown in Table 8, such excluded facilities include street lighting and communication towers.

Table 8: “Target Class Facilities” and “Non-Target Class Facilities” Sorted by Ministry

Ministry Target Class Facilities Non-Target Class Facilities
Ministry of Transportation Truck Inspection Stations Patrol Yards, Remote Airports, Street Lights
Ministry of Natural Resources Parks Fish Hatcheries, Ranger Camps, Forward Fire Stations
Ministry of Education Provincial Schools None – all facilities are included
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Adult Detention Centres None – all facilities are included
Ministry of Children and Youth Services Youth Detention Centres None – all facilities are included
Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure * Offices, Courts, Ontario Provincial Police Detachments, Data Centres Communication Towers, Exhibits, Storage

Notes: * The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure was reorganized into two separate ministries in 2010. The facilities are now managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure.

Source: Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure

The government announced it would rely on a four-point plan to help achieve its target: employee awareness programs, public engagement, facility upgrades, and working with private sector landlords to reduce energy use in leased facilities.

Specific projects that were to contribute to energy reduction included: a public awareness campaign across the Ontario Public Service; lighting upgrades; chiller replacements; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements; the Deep Lake Water Cooling project for certain government buildings in Toronto; and, additional building control measurements. Such projects would also have an effect on fuel consumption. Therefore, the actions taken to meet this target complement the government’s goal to reduce GHG emissions in Ontario.

The Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI, formerly amalgamated with the Ministry of Energy as the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure) is responsible for reporting the aggregated energy use for government-owned facilities. MOI oversees Infrastructure Ontario (IO, which was merged with the former Ontario Realty Corporation in 2011), an agency that manages property occupied by the Ontario government on behalf of many ministries. Ministries managing their own facilities independently of IO are referred to as “custodial ministries.”

In 2007, the government claimed it had reduced electricity consumption by 12 per cent between 2004/2005 and 2006/2007, without having performed proper verification. MOI committed to verify the energy reduction amounts and baseline data for this initiative. Hence, the ECO decided to review the validity of the government’s claim in exceeding the 2007 target and the government’s progress towards meeting the 2012 target more fully once the verification work was received from MOI.

Results

MOI hired a third-party consultant to verify its energy consumption data. Verification work began in 2009 and was completed in November 2010. The purpose was to:

  • Verify the 2002/2003 electricity baseline information, as well as January 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009 electricity consumption information for government-owned buildings; .
  • Verify the Ontario Realty Corporation (now IO) and custodial ministry portfolio for natural gas and other fuels used from January 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009, as well as verify the domestic (municipal) water consumption from January 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009; and,
  • Provide recommendations on how to better manage utility and related fuel records and fuel consumption databases for the provincial government.

There was no normalization for weather and occupancy performed on the data.

The third-party consultant found that the government fell short of its 10 per cent reduction target for 2007 (measured against 2002/2003 fiscal baseline year consumption amounts). MOI and IO reached the 10 per cent electricity reduction target for 2007 in their managed facilities; however, custodial ministries did not meet the 10 per cent target. Overall, the government achieved approximate electricity savings of 8 per cent by the end of 2007.

MOI indicated that custodial ministries did not reach their target because of insufficient dedicated funding and programs to reduce energy consumption in custodial facilities. This affected the overall provincial government average for electricity savings and made it difficult for the government to achieve the 2007 electricity reduction target.

Based on the information collected and validated through the verification work, IO has been able to estimate how the government is trending toward the overall goal of a 20 per cent reduction in electricity use by 2012. Assuming that IO will continue to save 2 per cent of electricity per year in their managed facilities, and custodial ministries will each save 1 per cent per year, the government believes it will achieve approximately 75 per cent of its target by 2012. Custodial ministry performance will likely dictate how the government will perform overall in meeting the 2012 goal. Some custodial ministries may save more than 1 per cent, while others may not.

ECO Comment

The government should implement the lessons learned to expedite progress towards the 2012 target. Attempts should be made to remove barriers within custodial ministries. Section 10 of the Green Energy Act, 2009 enables the Minister of Infrastructure to issue directives to ministries responsible for government facilities that could specify requirements relating to energy conservation and energy efficiency. In the ECO’s opinion, such a directive should be posted on the Environmental Registry for public consultation.


Recommendation :

The ECO recommends that the Minister of Infrastructure use the Green Energy Act, 2009 directive power to remove the barriers faced by custodial ministries to achieve the government’s electricity conservation target.

The underlying intent of having a third party validate energy bills for the government was to ensure that a systematic and consistent approach was being taken when communicating the government’s progress toward publicly committed energy targets. The value in this is great and it is unfortunate that the third-party validation work began in 2009, five years after the original target was established and two years after the government announced it had achieved its 2007 target.

By not accounting for weather or occupancy changes, the government is measuring its energy reduction in a manner that is inconsistent with standard industry methods. Weather and occupancy changes can have a direct impact on energy usage; without including these factors, the measured energy savings are less accurate. Specifically, it becomes difficult to critically assess the reasons behind changes in the energy usage habits of a facility if the weather and occupancy details are unknown. These adjustments should have been included in the third-party analysis.

However, the work to improve energy conservation within government buildings is ongoing and adjustments for weather and occupancy changes are included in the Energy Master Plan, which will apply to future energy retrofit projects.

Even though the target was not met, the ECO commends the government for completing the energy consumption validation work for its facilities. The task of collecting and verifying the data through the third-party consultant, along with the ongoing data collection by Ontario Shared Services (an agency of the Ministry of Government Services), has given MOI and IO five years of reliable data for energy management activities. The validation work also consolidated the various databases. With this additional detail about energy use in its facilities, now incorporated into one consolidated database, the government is in a better position for setting, tracking, and verifying its energy reduction targets.


Energy Master Plan
The Energy Master Plan is a 10-year plan, beginning in 2009 and ending in 2019, with a focus on developing management tools to facilitate an increase in operational efficiency. This will not only reduce electricity use, but also reduce fuel and steam consumption. Some highlights of the plan include:
  • Incorporating measurement and verification into all applicable projects;
  • Providing quarterly energy reports;
  • Implementing demand/load management programs;
  • Setting targets for increasing energy awareness based on initial baseline assessment;
  • Developing forecast-based energy targets for high-energy users and regions; and,
  • Developing a fully verifiable greenhouse gas inventory.

Ultimately, this plan will help lower greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs for the government. It will also support more accurate tracking of results. For example, electricity savings from retrofit projects historically have not been verified; however, the Energy Master Plan includes a requirement for formal measurement and verification for energy conservation projects, including various retrofit projects. This is beneficial because achievement of planned efficiency improvements requires not only performing retrofits, but also monitoring performance of a retrofit after it is completed.


Even though the target was not met, the ECO commends the government for completing the energy consumption validation work for its facilities. The task of collecting and verifying the data through the third-party consultant, along with the ongoing data collection y Ontario Shared Services (an agency of the Ministry of Government Services), has given MOI and IO five years of reliable data for energy management activities. The validation work also consolidated the various databases. With this additional detail about energy use in its facilities, now incorporated into one consolidated database, the government is in a better position for setting, tracking, and verifying its energy reduction targets.

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