State of energy efficiency in Alberta
Regional energy efficiency initiatives help homeowners, businesses, and industrial companies connect with local energy-focused resources. Energy efficiency programs help lower energy consumption, reduce energy costs, and improve the environment through greener building procedures, operating processes, and maintenance tasks.
There are several prominent Canadian and U.S.-based energy efficiency programs available to homeowners and businesses. The three initiatives discussed here are similar in their aims but are each impacted by specific regional issues.
Energy Efficiency AlbertaEnergy Efficiency Alberta (EEA) is a government initiative to improve the way Albertan’s consume and produce energy. The programs focus on industrial and commercial innovations that enhance sustainable energy practices and reduce energy costs.
EEA says their initiative has created jobs, grown local businesses, and has diversified the Alberta economy by creating an environment that fosters the renewable energy sector.
EEA creates programs for industrial and commercial businesses, non-profits, institutions, and households, including:
- A methane emissions reduction initiative for Alberta’s oil and gas sector
- Financing programs that help fund improvement projects and deeper energy savings
- Energy education programs for students and educators
- Programs focused on reducing heating costs related to inefficient, outdated heating products
- Technical training for industry professionals
- Community projects focused on encouraging sustainable building practices
Since its launch in 2017, EEA officials report the program has helped companies deliver almost 700 million Canadian dollars in energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions. EEA estimates that this figure represents CA$84 in net savings per tonne to avoid 5.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
The program helps Alberta reach a governmental-set goal of reducing GHG emissions by 2.76 million tonnes each year by 2025—the equivalent of 600,000 vehicles. The province has committed $1.24 toward commercial-scale carbon capture and storage projects focused on the oil sands and fertilizer sectors.
We can compare our program in Alberta to some more established programs in other jurisdictions.
California Energy Commission Programs
The State of California offers several energy efficiency programs through the California Energy Commission (CEC). The CEC works to “adopt energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings which reduce air pollution and save consumers money.”
The Commission runs programs for educational, commercial, household, industrial, and other sectors, including:
The Bright Schools Program, which provides technical assistance for K-12 public school districts
- Programs centred on resolving energy issues related to coastal structures
- The Building Energy Benchmarking Program
- Energy partnership programs for cities, counties, special districts, public colleges, universities, and health facilities
- A natural gas efficiency and emissions improvement program
- The Home Energy Rating System Program (HER)
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Programs
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) programs are similar to those available to residents and business owners in Alberta and California. NYSERDA programs help homeowners and businesses lower energy bills, reduce their environmental impact, and support clean energy and transportation initiatives throughout New York.
NYSERDA offers dozens of programs focused on energy reduction, lowering costs, and reducing the environmental impact of energy usage, including:
- An agriculture energy audit program
- An air-source heat pump program aimed at increasing the use of this technology
- An electric car rebate program
- Several energy audit programs for homeowners and businesses
- An incentive program for small companies offering green jobs
- A solar energy initiative
- A “smart grid” program focused on modernizing the state’s electric grid
NYSERDA reports that since 1990, the state has decreased energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, by 8 per cent, which is equal to removing more than 5 million cars from the road. The agency also reports a significant increase in renewable energy usage and electric vehicle charging over the past several years.
Enhancing Your Energy Efficiency in the Time of COVID-19Public health experts have made it clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lingering worldwide impact on how we interact with one another and with our environments. Some analysts predict that physical distancing and other changes to our daily lives will be a reality for the foreseeable future.
Energy Efficiency Alberta has developed a set of recommendations for building owners to consider during this challenging time. The agency sees a unique opportunity to enhance the energy efficiency of large areas of commercial space sitting unoccupied. Examples include updates to lighting, improving air quality systems, and correcting temperature control problems.
If you’re ready to start putting an energy savings plan together, an ASHRAE Level 1 energy audit with Switch Engineering is a great place to start. We’ll help you lower energy costs, improve energy efficiency, improve employee safety and comfort, and reduce your carbon footprint.