March 29 - April 5, 2004

Innovations help large, small businesses cut energy use, GHG emissions

Innovation and achievement in energy efficiency were recognized at the presentation of Canada's Energy Efficiency Awards during a ceremony at Ottawa's National Arts Centre on March 22. The awards were presented by Natural Resources Canada Minister John Efford to 15 winners and nine honourable mention recipients in industry, buildings, equipment and technology, and transportation, as well as housing, outreach, media and student competition.

Within the Industry category (under comprehensive projects by large energy users), DuPont Canada's Invista Division, in Kingston, Ont was the winner for its Energy Performance Contracting in Industry project.

Energy Performance Contracting (ECP) offers an innovative means of financing conservation projects, in which savings generated by reduced energy consumption are used to repay the cost of installing energy conservation measures. This enables building owners to benefit from energy conservation projects - and contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions - with no capital investment. This strategy has been widely used within government; DuPont's application was the first in industry.

A DuPont team led by Peter Chantraine, manager of energy and environment issues, and George Holland, corporate manager of finance, created an industry version of an EPC contract already being used by the federal government. This in turn formed the basis for an EPC contract signed at the end of 1999 by DuPont and Cogenex, a performance contracting firm. The first EPC conservation project was started at DuPont's Maitland facility in the fall of 2001 and became fully operational in October 2003. A second project at this location is 50% on line.

EPC does not directly reduce energy consumption, but provides a tool for implementing large energy conservation projects which otherwise could not be achieved. The first Maitland project, for example, reduces direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 30,000 tonnes per year. Three projects at DuPont's Kingston, Ont plant reduce direct GHG emissions by 7,780 tonnes and indirect emissions by 500 tonnes per year. Three more projects at both locations will yield further GHG emission reductions of 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes per year. The first Kingston project was slated to be fully operational this past January.

Most of the measured and confirmed energy savings are used to repay Cogenex, although DuPont keeps a small percentage, which is used to reduce operating costs further. Since the EPC agreement was signed, Cogenex has made a total investment of approximately $45 million. Its combined efforts will reduce DuPont's energy use by about 10% annually.

Recognized within the Industry category as well were process improvement projects by large and small energy users. DuPont's Invista division in Kingston and Standard Aero, in Winnipeg, were the winners, respectively.

DuPont received the award for a waste heat recovery project implemented as part of its EPC agreement with Cogenex. The application of industrial waste heat recovery is typically limited to capturing excess heat from a high-temperature process and applying it to processes operating at lower temperatures. At the Kingston facility, however, all the nylon polymerization processes operate at roughly the same temperature.

At the same time, says Peter Chantraine, manager of energy and environmental issues, "we recognized that we were rejecting heat in cooling water from one part of the plant and consuming natural gas to maintain comfortable seasonal temperatures in other areas."

The project involved the installation of a forced-circulation heat recovery glycol loop with distribution piping throughout the facility to capture heat which would otherwise have been vented to the atmosphere. Heat from the hot glycol is transferred to air handling units which deliver it to various locations in the plant, including manufacturing areas, site laboratories, a cafeteria, a medical facility, a locker room, maintenance shops, offices and meeting rooms.

The glycol loop coils retrofitted into the air handling units were installed alongside existing steam coils or natural gas heaters. This combination of heating elements maintains temperatures if the glycol loop is unable to supply sufficient heat, i.e. on extremely cold winter days. "To maximize waste heat recovery, a new high-pressure steam flash tank and an additional shell and tube heat exchanger have been installed," notes Chantraine.

The heat recovery project at DuPont's Kingston facility reduces fuel requirements for seasonal building heat by up to 50%, resulting in GHG emission reductions of more than 9,000 tonnes per year and savings of more than $800,000 annually. Under the EPC agreement, DuPont keeps 10% of the cost savings and Gogenex receives the remainder. At the end of the contract, or whenever it makes business sense to buy out the contract, DuPont will retain all of the cost savings.

As a small energy user, Standard Aero, an aerospace design and repair company, was eager to avoid high utility costs when it was planning construction of a new turbine engine maintenance and repair facility in Winnipeg. The company paid particularly close attention to the design of the building's compressed air system, determining in fact that two such systems would be required: a main system to generate power for tools and equipment; and another to supply much larger amounts of air in short bursts to test General Electric CF-34 turbine engines.

Standard Aero enlisted the technical expertise of Manitoba Hydro's business engineering services division, which advised the company to incorporate the compressed air systems technology in the utility's PowerSmart(tm) design. Doing so also enabled Standard Aero to qualify for incentive-based funding through Manitoba Hydro.

The resulting systems have five distinct energy-saving features. Among them are: a 100-horsepower variable-speed drive compressor in the main system, which allows the company to operate its tools and equipment during low-demand periods using the least amount of energy without losing the capacity to increase to full power in times of greater demand; and a state-of-the-art thermal mass refrigerated dryer in the testing system, which runs only as required depending on the quantity of air being dried and the moisture loading. In addition, heat recovery units recycle waste heat from both systems to supplement the facility's heating requirements during the winter.

The two systems cost a total of $120,600 and will save an estimated $46,000 per year in energy costs. Factoring in the incentive-based funding received by Standard Aero brings the payback period for the project to less than two years. The enhanced energy efficiency provided by the two systems will reduce GHG emissions by 30 tonnes.

The equipment and technology category includes residential and non-residential equipment and technology. The awards in this category recognized innovations in energy-using equipment and building products and energy management technology.

The winner for energy-using equipment, Dell-Point Technologies, of Boisbriand, Quebec, developed a device called a close-coupled gasification combustion burner, which increases the efficiency and reduces emissions from pellet stoves and central heating systems. Company vice-president Mark Drisdelle said the technology was a response to complaints from customers that his compressed sawdust pellets were clogging their space heating stoves which were specially designed to burn this fuel.

He discovered that the problem was not the fuel, but the design of the stoves which allowed too much air into the combustion chamber, causing combustion temperatures to soar and fusing minerals in the pellets. This resulted in formation of a slag which clogged air passages.

"Pellet stoves on the market today use about five times more air than they need," says Drisdelle, "so we conceived a new combustion system that requires less air and operates more efficiently." He refined his concept through a research agreement with Advanced Technologies Combustion Group.

The technology features an airtight chamber where fuel is pre-heated, releasing volatile gases which rise into a second chamber where they are drawn into a vortex and ignite. The result is cleaner, more complete and efficient combustion. And since initial combustion occurs at a lower temperature, minerals do not fuse to form slag deposits.

"With this technology, any heating system fueled by oil or natural gas can effectively switch to pellets or grains and realize substantial efficiencies over fossil fuels," says Drisdelle, adding that "depending on fuel type, the new technology reduces space heating costs by 50% or more."

The new system has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which noted that it generated fewer emissions than any type of burner it had ever tested. The device was introduced to the market last year in a line of pellet stoves, and distribution agreements have been signed for the United Kingdom, France and Japan.

The District of Maple Ridge, BC, just east of Vancouver, received the award for building products and energy management technology in recognition of its retrofit of the local operations centre. The relatively inexpensive project, completed in 2003 at a cost of slightly over $65,000, has already reduced the facility's consumption of natural gas and electricity by 40% and 23%, respectively.

The operations centre, made up of offices, garages and workshops, is a 30,000-square-foot building housing up to 100 employees. Prior to the retrofit, highly uneven occupancy patterns in the centre were resulting in wasteful energy use with correspondingly high costs, averaging $60,000 per year.

Gas Protection Systems Inc (GPSI), a local firm, designed a system for the centre which "relies on sophisticated technologies to ensure that energy is used as efficiently as possible," says GPSI president Stephen Gibson. The system features a network of 27 universal detector-controllers, small devices which gather information from different parts of the building about various conditions such as temperature, humidity and air pressure. A central computer helps these devices make subtle adjustments to lighting, heating and cooling equipment.

The computer is pre-programmed to heat and cool the building in accordance with pre-determined goals, to minimize energy consumption without compromising the comfort of its occupants. GPSI's installation at the operations centre is the first in which multiple controllers share a single modem; previously, each controller in a network required a separate modem.

The system is expected to pay for itself within five years, based on projected energy prices. It has also helped reduce insurance premiums for the building, as the controllers also function as smoke alarms and can detect leaks of carbon monoxide and natural gas. Its favourable return on investment also paves the way for increased application of this type of optimization to medium-sized buildings.

Honourable mention awards for building products and energy management technology went to Calgary's EnviroSmart streetlights retrofit project and to Merck Frosst Canada's new office building at its Montreal manufacturing complex.

During the first two phases of Calgary's retrofit project, more than 18,000 streetlights in residential sections of the city's northwest and northeast quadrants were replaced with a flat-lens fixture fitted with a 100-watt bulb. The new lights consumed approximately six million fewer kilowatt-hours of electricity than the old models, saving more than $620,000 and reducing GHG emissions by more than 7,000 tonnes.

By 2005, Calgary will have replaced more than 37,500 residential streetlights at a total cost of $6.6 million. Once the project is completed, the annual electricity cost savings are projected to be $1.7 million, for a payback period of less than four years (based on current electricity prices).

Merck Frosst's 12,000-square-metre office tower in Montreal is distinguished by the absence of a furnace or boiler. Its heating system uses energy recycled from an industrial process carried out in another part of the complex. A particular innovation of this system is its use of relatively lukewarm water (about 49oC) as the heat source, whereas conventional systems for using recycled energy typically require water heated to 80oC or higher.

The two-step heating system uses hot combustion gases from a neighbouring building's boiler to heat water circulating through a network of pipes. The water is then pumped through a heat exchanger, where its energy is transferred to heating water which is distributed to baseboard radiators throughout the building. Built at a cost of approximately $350,000, the system will have a payback period estimated at less than two years. It requires less maintenance than traditional systems, which will keep long-term operating costs relatively low; and its reliance on recycled energy instead of natural gas or oil is expected to avoid approximately 1,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year.

The transportation category award is limited to on-road transportation projects. In the diviison of commercial fleet management (heavy vehicles), Bison Transport, of Winnipeg, was recognized for its implementation of the Tatonka Fuel Management Skills Development program.

Tatonka, which is a First Nations word for bison, consists of 14 courses covering a wide range of driver-related disciplines. The program combines instructor-led discussions, computer-based modules and a full-motion vehicle simulator.

The fuel management portion of the program teaches drivers progressive-shifting techniques, the value of reduced idling and effective speed and space management. The vehicle simulator gives the drivers an immediate appreciation of the fuel efficiency benefits of these techniques.

Once they complete the program, they put their training into practice. Fuel use data are collected from the vehicles twice a month using a computer software package. The information so far shows that an 82-driver test group used 3% less fuel than a control group.

For Bison' entire fleet of 675 tractors and 1,450 trailers, this could translate into $750,000 in cost savings per year and an annual reduction of 3.2 million kilograms of GHG emissions. To approach these yearly savings, the company plans to have at least 90% of its 800 drivers complete the program over the next 18 months.

Other 2004 winners and their projects include:

* Ecosystem, of Sainte-Foy, Que, for its energy retrofit at the CEGEP de Saint-Hyacinthe;

* Enermodal Engineering, in Kitchener, Ont, for the University of Ottawa Biology Building;

* Greenest City Environmental Organization, in Toronto, for its Cool Shops program;

* Hudson's Bay Company, in Brampton, Ont, for its National Energy Efficiency Strategy;

* Milton Hydro Distribution, in Milton, Ont, for its interval metering project for the town; and

* Sun Ross Energy Homes, of Grantville, NS, for its Cape Breton solar home;

Canada's Energy Efficiency Awards are managed by the Office of Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources Canada. Summaries of the winning projects may be viewed on the awards program Web site at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/awards.

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