City of Mississauga
People and technology: A winning combination at the City of Mississauga
"At the City of Mississauga, we take our pledge of sustainability seriously. We are leading by example and are continually seeking opportunities to save energy and reduce the impact on our environment." – Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississaug.
The City of Mississauga has earned a well-deserved reputation for being a leader in energy efficiency, winning awards and accolades for many of its energy saving initiatives. Between 2004 and 2016, those initiatives helped avoid around $5 million in energy costs.
The city's energy management team is responsible for energy conservation and environmentally sustainable initiatives. Its mission is to continuously reduce utility consumption and costs by setting targets, measuring performance and implementing best practices.
Number of facilities: 124
Number of utility accounts monitored: 720
Total building area: 450,580 m2 / 4.85 million square feet
Community centres and arenas make up 24 percent of the city's annual energy consumption, making them ideal candidates for energy efficiency initiatives.
In addition to daily energy monitoring of many of its facilities, all city buildings are assessed on a regular basis to capture and update system data, and electricity and water consumption per square metre is reported annually as required by Ontario's Green Energy Act. But the key to their success rests on their engagement with staff.
"Energy management is a collective effort," said Daniela Paraschiv, Manager, Energy Management. "Our aim is to engage as many people as we can. That's what our operational initiatives like the ice plant optimization and Race to Reduce programs are trying to achieve."
Paraschiv said that she has seen a significant change in people's perceptions and behaviours when it comes to energy use over the years. "We've launched multiple awareness initiatives that have really made a difference in people's behaviours," she said. "People are more knowledgeable about the energy waste and the impact that energy consumption has on the budget and the environment."
Toronto Regional Conservation Authority's Town Hall Challenge and winner of the Living City Energy Efficiency Award, 2015.
Co-winner of the
Save on Energy program.
Recognized as one of the top performing participants as part of the
The city has targeted a 5% energy intensity reduction by 2019, and has already taken important steps to move in a more sustainable direction with the ultimate goal of making Mississauga a net zero carbon city.
Benchmarking to set targets
The City of Mississauga uses real-time building-level metering of electricity, natural gas, and water in 21 of its highest consuming buildings, and is also testing the sub-metering capabilities of the refrigeration plant equipment at three of its arenas. The city uses both a utility monitoring system and a building automation system to track energy data.
The city compares a facility to its current and past energy usage, as well as to industry standards such as ASHRAE, to set targets.
"We compare one building with itself, with its historical performance, and how much we've improved or not," said Paraschiv, adding that the city’s portfolio is either on par with or slightly more efficient than the Canadian national median.
Paraschiv cautioned, however, that those comparisons don't always provide the whole story.
"There aren't enough data sets for the building categories managed by municipalities, especially ice rinks and pools," she said. "Eventually, our aim is to utilize ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager once most of our building categories are eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR score."
Municipal plans focus on energy efficiency
The energy management team is guided by the city's Five-Year Energy Conservation Plan (ECP) and Facilities & Property Management Business Plan (FPMBP), both of which stress the importance of increasing and promoting energy efficiency and awareness. Under the ECP, the city plans to meet its conservation targets through a combination of recommissioning, city-wide energy audits, and energy efficiency programs and projects. The FPMBP supports those moves by identifying and preparing for aging systems and infrastructure, and prioritizing investments to make the best use of the city's existing buildings and building systems.
Iceland Arena ice plant optimization pilot
Among municipal facilities, community centres, ice rinks, pools and arenas are some of the highest energy consumers. In November 2016, Mississauga's energy management team conducted a pilot project at the Iceland Arena to determine how refrigeration equipment optimization could reduce consumption and costs.
"We chose an eight-week period with similar week-to-week schedules and outside temperatures for the pilot and established the first week as the baseline, and the subsequent modifications as the performance period," said Sumeet Jhingan, one of the city's Energy Management Coordinators.
The energy management team conducted a literature review by researching government and industry documents for guidelines on how best to conduct the pilot project and to determine best practices. See Resources below.
"The research and work that these organizations have already completed allowed us to identify opportunities in our own operations," explained Jhingan. From the literature review, the team estimated that they could reduce electricity use by about 5 to 10 percent by optimizing equipment and schedules.
"We started slowly, with Sumeet meeting with all the operations staff in almost all of our arenas, to discuss the parameters and procedures," said Paraschiv. At first, ice rink supervisors were reluctant to make changes because if something had gone wrong and ice quality had been compromised, the rink staff would have been on the front line of complaints. But Jhingan persevered and found an energy champion, Michael Blazenko, at the Iceland Arena who was willing to work with them.
The city installed a portable data logger to track real-time electricity consumption for all equipment in the ice plant. Changes were then made to the operational sequencing of equipment to reduce energy consumption.
It took some doing to find the sweet spot.
"We had created a plan for a seven-week performance period, so we had seven different configurations to test," said Jhingan. "We had to tweak those configurations by week three because of how the system and the ice were reacting."
Unlike the equipment at the city's other arenas, the compressors at Iceland have the ability to ramp up to full speed at a slower pace, and that made a big difference in the savings. Jhingan explained that ice plants typically employ one of two types of controls: an infrared sensor that points directly at the ice surface temperature, or a sensor in the fluid that flows beneath the ice slab. Iceland uses an infrared sensor.
"The infrared sensor is very sensitive and picks up even small variations in temperature," he said. "For example, if a Zamboni passed through it, the information went back to the plant and the temperature changed right away. There was a lot of reactive type of control and, most times, it would bring all the compressors on. Once we had all the equipment timed, there was a much more stable operation."
Results and lessons learned
Between November 2016 and July 2017, Iceland's refrigeration plant electricity consumption decreased by 22 percent in the winter weeks, more than double what had been expected, with annual savings of more than $39,000, all without compromising ice quality. A similar project was also implemented at the Hershey Centre where refrigeration plant optimization provided a reduction in peak demand by almost 100 kW and about a 10% drop in compressor run-hours.
From what they learned at Iceland and Hershey, the team will be able to develop a sequence of operations documents that can be used by other supervisors.
"The idea is for that to become the template for all arenas," said Jhingan.
Paraschiv said that the city is also in the process of putting together a list of the challenges they encountered and how they were overcome so that other supervisors will be aware of the issues and how to resolve them. Due to the reactive nature of the sensors and compressor run-times, the team is also developing a hybrid approach that can be used at other arenas.
Once the pilot project results were collated, the team asked Michael Blazenko to make the presentation to other arena supervisors. This made a greater impression, as the information was coming from one of their peers. In fact, once the results were known, "everyone wanted it for their rink," said Jhingan.
Race to Reduce
"Some of the improvements made to the Civic Centre during the Town Hall Challenge included upgrading building automation systems, maintenance programs and training,” said Raj Sheth, Director, Facilities and Property Management.
“Alongside these improvements, city employees also took action by participating in energy awareness programs and making energy saving part of their daily routine. Combined, these actions helped the City of Mississauga significantly conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases.”
Following up on its successes with other similar campaigns, such as the Town Hall Challenge, the city launched an internal Race to Reduce campaign on Earth Day 2017.
"Any type of competition brings a high level of engagement," said Paraschiv. "Since we recently completed the installation of a real-time utility monitoring system, we wanted people to learn how to use it on a daily basis and be able to address issues that generate energy waste."
All operators receive system training, and every second week one of the city's five energy management coordinators meets with them to review the data, trends and changes in consumption.
"Collectively, they observe the building systems and discuss solutions for improvement," said Paraschiv.
The coordinators also encourage operators to develop good energy habits by reading the energy profiles every morning so that they can address any issues right away.
Each energy management coordinator oversees a small number of buildings, and all buildings involved were first benchmarked using ASHRAE standards (energy use intensity per square foot) to set targets.
"Our aim is to bring our buildings into the top 25th percentile of energy-efficient buildings in each category, but we haven't put a timeline for reaching targets because each facility is so different in terms of its requirements, its age, and its systems. Some have also received capital upgrades, while others have not," explained Paraschiv. "To make it as fair as we can, we decided to compare 'progress to target' after one year to see which facility achieved the greatest progress."
Additional energy measures
One of the top recommendations to come from a city-wide feasibility study of its top 100 energy consuming buildings was to retrofit the lighting systems. LED retrofits have now been completed at more than half of the city's arenas and pools, 10 building site parking lots, and along pathways, and a retrofit at its City Hall is currently underway.
Mechanical systems and controls
New high-efficiency dehumidification units at the Hershey Centre are saving about $10,000 a year, while a new control system at the BraeBen Golf Course allows for better scheduling and monitoring, with annual savings pegged at about $7,000.
Staff engagement dictates success
Mississauga's strong commitment to education and training for facility operators and managers is paying off.
"We've found that the most savings come from educating operators because they need to know how to efficiently operate those systems," said Paraschiv.
"Every piece of equipment has an interactive effect, and reducing usage on one piece can lead to increased usage of another, so we take the time to understand the building and equipment conditions before implementing any changes," added Jhingan.
As the new building automation and utility monitoring systems were being installed, the energy management team worked with other staff members to identify gaps in training and to then provide more customized training to meet those needs. All media are used: whether it's e-learning, videos, in-person training, or how-to tips on the city's website, the energy management team provides ongoing information on how best to manage energy in a wide variety of buildings and building types.
The City of Mississauga's energy management team is leading the charge for greater energy efficiency in all of its municipal facilities, and it has succeeded because it focused not just on new or efficient technologies, but on how those technologies are used and by whom.
Paraschiv summed it up:
"Engaging staff will always dictate the success of any energy project."