Bridgewater's reduced energy costs saved town about $200K

The Town of Bridgewater is celebrating after recent analysis showed the municipality has managed to drop its greenhouses gas emissions well below targets set in 2013.

Town surpasses greenhouse gas reduction targets it set in 2013

(Robert Short/CBC)

The Town of Bridgewater is celebrating after recent analysis showed the municipality has managed to drop its greenhouses gas emissions well below targets set in 2013.

That drop in energy consumption has saved the town roughly $200,000, according to the town's sustainability planner.

"We told council that there was some really good news," Leon de Vreede said of his presentation to town council two weeks ago. "Average energy consumption for our public facilities has gone down by 21 per cent over that time period."  

De Vreede said if several old buildings that were decommissioned are taken into account, such as the Bridgewater Library, the Bridgewater Memorial Arena and the Coughlan Building, energy consumption is down a further 49 per cent.

Targets met

In 2013, Bridgewater set a target for itself of reducing energy consumption by 25 per cent by 2019, which means there is four per cent still to go.

The town also resolved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent in the same time frame. By this year, it had cut emissions by 31 per cent.

Bridgewater also calculated it spent about $500,000 on fuel in 2007-2008. In 2016-2017, it spent $453,000.

A new boiler was installed in the town hall. (Robert Short/CBC)

De Vreede said some examples of the energy efficiency upgrades include better lighting in the town rink, and changing two old oil boilers in the town hall that ran at "full speed or nothing" for a more efficient propane one.

"Our fuel consumption at town hall has declined substantially as a result of that, and parts of the building aren't overheating anymore the way they used to," he said.

Although there is an upfront cost to new technology like the propane boiler, De Vreede said it is outweighed by operations savings for a building that will be used for many years.

"This is significant," de Vreede said. "Energy management is often perceived as a luxury by organizations who are too busy to feel that they can afford to focus on it. But I think what we've demonstrated here is that there are a lot of benefits to doing it."

Reduced fuel costs have helped Bridgewater offer more public services, such as a transit pilot project. (Submitted by the Town of Bridgewater)

Bridgewater CAO Richard MacLellan said freeing up money from fuel costs allows the town to offer more services, such as this year's public transit pilot project.

"In order to sustain that we're going to have to add that to the operations budget in future years, so finding savings by doing things like energy efficiency enables us to make choices, to make investments in other areas of public good," he said. 

MacLellan also noted he would prefer to spend money on local infrastructure than imported fuel. 

"That mostly goes towards foreign-sourced coal or fuel oil, and there's opportunities through investment in renewables and energy efficiency to keep those energy dollars here."

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Shaina Luck

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Shaina Luck covers everything from court to city council. Her favourite stories are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca