Even before it's up and running, the City of Yellowknife has won a sustainability award for its plan to reduce the city's emissions with new wood pellet boilers.

Yellowknife was recently awarded the 2018 Sustainable Communities Award in the energy category from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities — recognizing environmental initiatives in the community.

Instead of using fossil fuels, the city will use the wood pellet system to heat five buildings — the multiplex, fieldhouse public works garage, city warehouse and firehall. It will be the biggest pellet heating system in the Northwest Territories.

The wood pellet boiler — also called the biomass district energy system —  is expected to reduce fuel costs up to $160,000 each year, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 829 tonnes annually, according to a city news release.

The city will spend close to $2 million to implement the new system.

"We're hoping to see even more savings, in terms of financial savings, from the increased efficiency," said Mike Auge, manager of sustainability and solid waste for the city.

The project was delayed because of delays in shipments from Europe, said Auge.

The system is expected to start operating in March.

With files from Jamie Malbeuf