From the Centre: Creston community complex earns award for energy conservation

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“What the heck’s a Gigawatt?”

— Marty McFly to Doc Emmett Brown, Back to the Future


The people at FortisBC know what a gigawatt is and at the 2012 FortisBC PowerSense Conserva-tion Excellence Awards they recognized the Creston and District Community Complex as one of the leading facilities in the Kootenays for electrical power conservation. Our total savings rang in at 620,000 kilowatt hours (which happens to be 0.62 gigawatt hours) and was a result of the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s commitment to energy efficiency many years ago.

This isn’t the first time your facility has been held in high regard on the energy front; we took home an award in 2005 for conservation after updating our refrigeration system and lighting to then-current standards, along with having a manager that constant harangued us to turn off the lights when we left a room (Mom? Is that you?) It made a difference. Fast forward to the successful referendum in 2006 and the commitment from the RDCK local area directors, the design team and the consultant group to create a top quality, energy efficient facility within budget resulting in what we have today — just that.

I remember an initial stakeholder meeting where the project manager presented a triangle chart with cost, quality and time on each of the points. The objective was to place a point where the focus of the project was to be and everyone was in agreement that it should be concentrated on budget and quality, with timing for completion to play a lesser part. Personally, I believe that was the right decision even though, yes, it appeared at times like nothing was happening and we all (from area directors right to custodians) took a bit of heat from the public at times rightfully anxious for their facility. In fact, it never stopped happening behind the scenes. For instance, relative to energy efficiency, there was a lengthy exercise with an energy consultant that created a computer model of the existing and proposed building and performed a whole exercise with heating and cooling systems, window type and placement, varying wall and roof insulation — you name it, we shuffled, changed and compared until we had the best possible bang for the buck. Guess what? Even though it took a bit of time then, the cost for that consultant was paid for in electrical energy savings in about eight months of operating.

Part of that exercise was also establishing paybacks on the equipment and systems we ended up putting into place. From the study, for instance, the estimated payback on lighting occupancy sensors, full exhaust heat recovery for the pool and demand controlled ventilation for the arena change rooms was 2.8 years. That payback point is just about upon us. Other payback points vary for the energy efficient motors, variable speed drives, direct digital control building automation system, insulation and various heat recovery systems but there is a payback in using this modern technology and this is what FortisBC has recognized in presenting RDCK with the conservation award.

Does this place use a lot of energy? You bet it does. Do you have a building that reflects some of the best energy efficient equipment and methods currently available? You bet you do, and we will continue to operate and work with energy providers in researching continuously changing technologies to make sure we keep those costs as low as possible. Face it, our energy savings of 0.62 gigawatts is over half of what Doc Brown needed to fly the Delorean in Back to the Future. Great Scott!

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.