Case Study 5: Thompson Rivers University

Icon Thompson Rivers UniversityJames Gudjonson, Energy Manager for Thompson Rivers University, has seen the benefits that energy management training can provide organizations. In his first three years working at Thompson Rivers University, he and his facilities team helped implement a total of 1.5 million dollars' worth of energy conservation measures, resulting in roughly $200,000 in electrical and natural gas savings per year (1,600,000 KWh of electrical savings and 4500 GJ of natural gas savings). In addition to the cost savings and the subsequent reduction in carbon emissions, the facilities staff reported a 10-hour weekly reduction in time dedicated to maintenance work.

James has taken all of the Natural Resources Canada workshops as well as the 5-day Council of Energy Ministers energy management training course. He talks about how some of the energy projects they completed on campus were based on the things that he learned in training: "it helped us identify which energy conservation measures we wanted to go after by looking at which has the best paybacks." One of those good ideas from training was the three quarters of million in lighting and lighting control upgrades, which they implemented in 2011.

In December 2011, James organized a customized Natural Resources Canada workshop for all facilities staff. The workshop was well received and as evidence of this he's noticed that the facilities managers have paid for some of their staff to attend other Natural Resources Canada workshops. Thompson Rivers University also provides training to staff on new building systems, such as the University's new geothermal heating systems and Energy Management Information System software. They even do a bit of training on building systems with regular staff.

The customized training session with Natural Resources Canada helped James build better relationships with the facilities staff. He has found that there is better dialogue now between him and the staff and that they are much more open to suggesting energy savings ideas. It has also opened up the discussion about setting up more structured maintenance systems based on energy conservation ideas learned in training. This includes a couple of new pilot projects to set up new software to facilities staff keep track of different pieces of equipment and how they're maintained.

One of the challenges James faced when designing the customized Natural Resources Canada course, was how to frame the training session as opportunity so as to create buy-in from staff. He explained that "it's hard to put on a course that doesn't in some ways suggest that they can do better. Some people might take offence to that." He saw this question of framing as a cultural issue and was careful to talk about the workshop as an opportunity rather than a means of "point the finger". It's not that they are not "doing a good job of maintaining the buildings, it's just that they aren't doing it from an energy saving perspective."

Energy training is part of the overall energy management process at the University. James describes how initially there was scepticism about the value of energy management in the organization, but that now that "some of the upper level administrators are looking at the utilities savings [they] are seeing that [energy management] makes sense."