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Athletes’ village energy soon tracked online

Pulse Energy tool may be applied to Meadow Park Sports Centre in future



Residents can soon log online and track energy use at the Whistler athletes' centre and other Olympic related facilities. m went live last week and the Whistler athletes' village tracker should be activated by this Friday, said Ashley Kerr of Pulse Energy, the company that created the tool.

Whistler Blackcomb's Roundhouse and snowmaking facilities are also being monitored on a daily basis for electricity and fuel use, she said. The tracker was launched on Jan. 22 at an event attended by John Furlong, CEO of VANOC, and Ben Van Ruyven, CEO of B.C. Hydro.

Ted Battiston from the Whistler Centre for Sustainability worked with Pulse Energy to bring the technology to the athletes' village for free. He foresees a similar tracking system being applied to Meadow Park Sports Centre down the road.

It would cost about $5,000 to $8,000 a year to implement at the sports centre.

"While chatting with the folks at Pulse, we asked how we could tell the story of the venues, since a lot of the innovations in the venues are not something you can see," said Battiston.

"They were thinking about the same challenges and they came up with the venue energy tracker. Right from the start, I thought it was a great idea."

Not only does Pulse's tracker shed light on the energy flux at the different facilities, but it is also a useful management tool, he said. By providing good data in real time, it allows building managers to react to changes in the system and address anything that is not optimized.

"By using real time energy management software, buildings usually are 10 to 15 per cent more efficient just because of the better access to data," said Battiston.

Meadow Park Sports Centre is the municipality's most expensive building to heat and it is the municipality's highest emitter of carbon dioxide, according to general manager of community life Bob McPherson.

To cut down on energy output, the municipality spent $1 million last year to install a geothermal exchange system in Meadow Park Sports Centre. The upgrade is currently being installed and is expected to save the municipality $115,000 to $400,000 a year in heating costs.

On the other hand, Battiston said it wouldn't be worthwhile to attach the tracking system to the Whistler Public Library.

Energy use at the library drew attention last summer, when it came to light that energy bills at the state-of-the-art building were 35 per cent higher than predicted.

But this week, Battiston said even though the library is not running as optimally as originally anticipated, it is still one of the Resort Municipality of Whistler's lowest emitters per square foot. And if the municipality could cut down energy use by 15 per cent, it still wouldn't be able to recover the cost of monitoring the building.

Pulse is currently tracking nine sites in Whistler and Vancouver through a program with B.C. Hydro and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC). Of those, two are Olympic competition venues in the city: the Richmond Oval and Canada Hockey Place. The Vancouver athlete's village is also being monitored.

Battiston didn't know of any plans to track energy usage at the three Whistler Olympic competition venues through Pulse.

More facilities may be added to the program, said Kerr, and the goal of the project is to be transparent about energy use at various facilities.

She added VANOC's sustainability report will paint a more detailed picture of energy use at all the Olympic sites.

Meanwhile, Arthur DeJong from Whistler Blackcomb called the Pulse project a fundamental step forward in his company's long-term goal of reducing energy emissions.

"It is important to note that we have been building up our monitoring capacity over our energy use over the last several years, so the Pulse system is a new addition to a growing comprehensive energy management program we have here," said DeJong.

He stressed that while it is important to monitor energy output results, actually reducing output is also crucial.