Rink Warms Nursery Greenhouse

Thirty-six facilities to receive $16.2 million in green upgrades
By Cheryl Rossi, Vancouver Courier
April 25, 2011 11:37 AM  

Waste heat from the year-round ice rink at Sunset Community Centre is warming a greenhouse at Sunset Nursery. The city, park board and energy management company Ameresco switched on the heat pumps Wednesday morning.

Waste heat from the rink’s refrigeration plant will heat 12 of the 15 greenhouses at the nursery on East 51st Avenue near Main, which supplies flowers, shrubs and trees to city parks and streets.

The nursery is one of 36 city facilities, 30 of them run by the park board, to receive $16.2 million in energy conservation upgrades. The captured waste heat combined with the replacement of two boilers with high efficiency condensing units is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the nursery by 52 per cent, or 268 tonnes a year, the equivalent of removing 51 cars from city streets, said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Vision Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper noted B.C. Hydro helped with retrofits at Sunset. “All of us working together have helped make our little part of the world a bit greener,” he said.

The entire project, which started in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across city facilities, is expected to reduce energy use by 24 per cent and emissions by 28 per cent, or 3,000 tonnes per year.

The energy conservation measures won’t cost taxpayers anything extra. The upgrades were funded with money borrowed from the city’s internal funds to be paid back with interest over a 20-year period using money saved on utilities. Ameresco has guaranteed the city a utility savings of $930,000 per year and will make up the difference if the full amount is not saved.

Mario Iusi, president of Ameresco Canada, said the company has helped cities across the country reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the past 10 years, but that Vancouver has undertaken the largest and most comprehensive project.

The Toronto-based executive noted the conservation upgrades in Vancouver have created new jobs in the city, expanding the local Ameresco office from four to 20 staff since the project began.

The city reports that greenhouse gas emissions were 18 per cent lower in 2010 than they were in 1990, despite a 44 per cent increase in total area for city facilities, with further reductions expected throughout 2011. That means the city is on track to meet the Kyoto target of six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. City council voted unanimously in January to earn the title of world’s greenest city by 2020.

The city reports research by the Clinton Climate Initiative indicates buildings worldwide account for 15 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Under the B.C. Climate Action Charter starting in 2012, municipalities will have to become carbon neutral or purchase carbon offsets to meet these requirements. Offsetting greenhouse gases from building emissions represents more than half of these costs.

The city reports that Vancouver has the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of any major city in North America at 4.6 tonnes per person.

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Ameresco: CarolAnn Hibbard, 508-661-2264, [email protected]