Green projects promise bang for the buck

Conference Centre energy improvements make facility more marketable

Victoria city council has given the go-ahead for two green initiatives, with a price tag of $46,250.

“On a superficial level, these are climate-change projects, climate action projects, but I would argue these are very much economic projects, efficiency projects, green-house gas projects and even social projects,” said Roy Brooke, who replaced Kim Fowler as the city’s director of sustainability in September.

Targeted is the conference centre, one of the biggest energy consumers among city-owned facilities. A $30,000 energy study will identify potential energy upgrades. B.C. Hydro has committed to reimburse at least half of the study’s cost, and all of its cost if its recommendations are followed.

Last year, the conference centre “was recognized for all the work they have done to make their events more sustainable … there’s still room for improvement,” said Allison Ashcroft, senior planner in the city’s department of sustainability. Two boilers at the centre need replacement, so this could be a good opportunity to also upgrade them.

Aside from savings from lower energy bills, the project also promises to make the conference centre more marketable.

“These are the right things to do, but they are absolutely necessary for the business case of the conference centre,” said Coun. Pam Madoff. “The businesses that are booking conferences there, it’s one of the first things they’re asking is, ‘What are the environmental initiatives to lower our carbon footprint?'”

The second approved project entails a $16,250 contribution to the climate smart pilot program. Under the program, 25 Victoria businesses can apply for energy-efficiency training at one third of the cost. Saanich, the Capital Regional District and VanCity will also fund the pilot.

Both projects will draw funds from the city’s Climate Action Reserve Fund, which totals $330,00 currently. Every year, the fund is replenished with a $65,000 contribution from the city’s carbon tax rebate, and with a $25,000 rebate from Monk Office for office supply purchases.