DND looks to private sector for smaller carbon footprint

Naden Athletic Centre

Naden Athletic Centre

Peter Mallett, Staff writer ~

Three buildings at CFB Esquimalt will be part of a revamped Department of National Defence initiative designed to reduce energy consumption costs while using the savings to pay for upgrades.

Officials from DND announced June 6 that the base will be one of seven across Canada chosen for the re-launch of its Energy Performance Contract Program.

Nelles Block, Naden Recreation Centre and Wurtele Arena have been selected by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Environment (ADMIE) as initial sites for the program.

Now it’s up to private energy service companies, who have solutions to substantially reduce heating costs, to come up with a plan and submit that proposal to ADMIE.

“Greenhouse gas reduction is the main reason why we are doing this, and we really want to leave a mark,” says Sebastian Labelle, Director of Portfolio Innovation in ADMIE. “We are likely going to pick private companies who can offer us a bigger bang for our buck. It’s all about supporting the mission of the DND and reducing our energy costs will allow us to better spend the money in other areas.”

DND spends more than $170 million annually on energy for infrastructure. Add to this, more than half the federal government’s greenhouse emissions come from military infrastructure, says Labelle. When the first seven contracts are awarded and then completed, ADMIE anticipates $7 million to $14 million in annual savings and a reduction target of 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses over the life of the project.

Once the proposals are approved in late 2016, the private firms and their contractors will carry out retrofit projects at no cost to the taxpayer and limited risk to the Crown. They are expected to invest between $5 million and $25 million per project, and will be repaid over a five to 15-year period using monies from savings realized in reducing energy use.

Greenwood, Cold Lake, Trenton and Shilo are the four other bases currently accepting energy performance proposals; a contract has already been awarded at DRDC Valcartier. Alert will come on line later this year.

Two private sector firms have expressed interest at Esquimalt and have already done site visits to Naden. Labelle noted the project is a break from traditional procurement operations because the companies are taking the financial risks and won’t make any profits unless their solutions generate substantial reductions.

“In this case we are saying to these companies go and get us the savings,” he says. “Normally bidders under previous Energy Performance Contract Program were looking to do shorter term and small projects over five years, but we are looking for bids with more innovative and long-term solutions to reducing our carbon footprints.”

The Energy Performance Contract Program was established in 1993 but has been given a reboot with this latest announcement. The deadline for bid submissions is July 20, and Labelle says DND hopes to have a company identified for CFB Esquimalt in the fall. Once the company is hired work on the structures could begin in 2017.

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