Energy Matters – March 2017

Included with this month’s Energy Matters:

Power Smart tip

Get a $150 instant rebate and reduce energy use when you participate in our Heat Recovery Ventilator Control Program.

Race to reduce energy use

Owners and tenants in some of Manitoba’s largest office buildings are in a Race to Reduce energy use by 2021.

The four-year, friendly Manitoba Race to Reduce started on January 1. To date, 25 buildings in Winnipeg — each at least 30,000 square feet in size — have registered, with more signing on in the next few weeks. Registration is open throughout the race to qualifying participants. Eligible buildings must have 75 per cent of their premises as commercial office space and have a minimum occupancy of 80 per cent.

Using their 2016 utility bills as a benchmark, the goal is to collectively reduce energy consumption by least 10 per cent. To put that in perspective, a 10 per cent reduction in energy use across all office buildings in Manitoba would be the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road for one year and saving about $2 million on energy bills.

“On any other day we are often in competition with each other for business and for tenants, but we’ve joined in an unprecedented collaboration to reduce energy use over the next four years,” said Manitoba Race to Reduce Co-Chair Frank Sherlock at a recent event to promote the race. Sherlock is executive vice-president, Property Management, of Artis REIT, whose building is at 360 Main St. near Portage Avenue.

“We know we can accomplish a lot more together when we change our work habits — from even the smallest things, like turning off the lights when we leave to using LED lighting,” Sherlock said.

Manitoba Hydro President and CEO Kelvin Shepherd said Manitoba Race to Reduce fits with the corporation’s goals of carrying out its business activities in an environmentally responsible way, promoting a healthier environment, enhancing energy conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We believe we have a unique opportunity to increase the energy efficiency within Manitoba’s commercial building sector,“ Shepherd said. ”We are also participating in this race over the next four years with our own commercial buildings across the province. We look forward to a spirited competition as we race to reduce the energy consumption in our facilities.”

Amanda San Filippo, Manitoba Race to Reduce program manager, said buildings with more than six million square feet of commercial office space — equal to about 5,000 residential homes — have so far committed to the race. They include:

  • Artis REIT, 360 Main St.;
  • Great-West Life, Broadway and Osborne;
  • Investors Group, Portage and Memorial;
  • Manitoba Hydro, Portage and Edmonton;
  • The TD Trust Building, Portage and Main;
  • Manitoba Public Insurance facilities;
  • City of Winnipeg buildings… and many more.

What can a single worker do to save energy?

  1. Close window blinds to shade an office from direct sunlight in the summer and open blinds to gain heat from the sun in the winter.
  2. Turn off lights when leaving the office.
  3. Turn on the energy-saver option on computers.
  4. Unplug phone chargers and other devices when not in use.

Manitoba Race to Reduce provides a plan of action and tool kit of technical advice to guide organizations in increasing their awareness of their building’s energy use, measuring and monitoring energy use and changing the operation of equipment to increase energy efficiency.

“Manitoba Race to Reduce will be tracking the results and every year will give awards to the building owners, tenants and staff for their achievements,” San Filippo said.

She said the initial goal was to get three million square feet of commercial office space confirmed before launching the race. That was quickly surpassed with a number of Manitoba businesses signing on. Manitoba Race to Reduce is modelled after Toronto’s Race to Reduce, launched by CivicAction in 2011. Over the four years of the Toronto race, collective energy use dropped by 12.1 per cent, surpassing the program’s 10 per cent target.

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Expect the unexpected when snowmobiling

Manitoba has seen three snowmobile-related fatalities this winter, two involving travelling on thin ice and a third involving speed and poor visibility.

Several snowmobilers have also been injured, including one who hit a utility pole guy wire December 26 near Selkirk and a second who crashed February 4 at Warren, requiring the STARS helicopter air ambulance to be dispatched.

Yvonne Rideout, executive director of Snoman Inc. — Snowmobilers of Manitoba, said riders should always travel with caution.

“Stay on designated trails and follow the signs,“ she said. ”Always beware of guy wires and make sure river and lake ice is thick enough — you need ice to be at least five inches thick.”

Keep these rules in mind when you’re snowmobiling near Manitoba Hydro facilities:

  • Reduce your speed around utility poles. Guy wires attached to the poles normally have yellow covers to make them more visible, but sometimes the covers are damaged or removed, or they are difficult to see because they are covered by drifting snow. Darkness, fog, and blowing snow can make them difficult to spot and avoid.
  • Stay off waterways near hydro-electric generating stations where fluctuating water levels and currents may result in thin and unstable ice conditions.
  • Avoid the areas around hydro substations and any other utility facilities. Private property and unmarked terrain can contain unexpected hazards.

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Canadian Blood Services

It’s in you to give

Canadian Blood Services is dedicated to providing blood and blood products to help save the lives of all Canadians. Many individuals have the Power to Give Life by donating blood, registering as a stem cell donor or by volunteering. Join our life-saving community. Visit the Canadian Blood Services website for more information.

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