By Kenyon Stronski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Net-zero energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gases (GHG’s), and switching to more renewable energy sources has been a big topic for Canada. Being environmentally safe is an initiative that Taber itself has subscribed to; and is helped in part by their new Municipal Energy Manager Blake Hranac.
Hranac began the job Aug. 16, however has worked with the town of Taber for over two years as an engineering technologist.
“The town itself wanted to pursue the MEM program and it went to council earlier this year. Council approved them hiring on someone, and they looked internally first. I met the criteria for the program so they approached me and asked if I wanted to pursue it for Taber, and I enjoy working here so I responded I was interested and now here we are.”
One of the main jobs of the MEM is to benchmark what the town’s historical consumption of energy, has been and then come up with a reduction measure.
“There’s really kind of a fairly rigid program that we have to follow as part of the grant funding,” noted Hranac. “And with it being a one year program it’s just one year targeted measure. The town has previously done some of this work but no-one has really every brought it all together. We go around and benchmark the existing facilities, find what their consumption is and then try and find a low-cost savings measure to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Taber has quite a few facilities so honestly it is quite and arduous task, but one of the main takeaways for the program is that Taber will hopefully have a management plan that will hopefully guide us to future project and facility upgrades.
Hranac also commented on a lot of the similarities between his previous job and this one.
“My background is largely civil engineering, and I’ve been a part of the firehall construction, various stations and a few other things so I do have a fairly good grasp of building construction and the building side of things. So really it’s by no means brand new, the new part is really just the energy efficiency side of it but with the help of the program administrators it’s been okay. They give a lot of resources, equipment and really anything you need.”
Taber has a personal goal to move towards lower energy consumption and lower emissions, and Hranac indicated that the consensus is that we should be transitioning that way.
“Really the days of arguing about whether to not it’s a good idea or whether or not we need to look at these new initiatives for reducing emissions is gone, and really it’s transitioned to how are we going to do it. Personally for me I want to get the ball rolling for Taber on some of these initiatives so long term we can be set up in a position to where Taber is working towards net-zero because we’re not really close to that but I want to start down that path. One being the proposed solar project which will be a huge win for Taber if we can get everything in place to get that off the ground. Other than that it’s just to help kickstart that transition for Taber. At the moment we’re just modeling and benchmarking all of our facilities, and towards the end of the program we will have more of a comprehensive report on the measures we can take for our facilities. Certainly theres a lot of no or low cost things that we can look at and identify too. Things like unplugging an ice maker in the winter when you don’t need it, same with fridges and freezers that aren’t being utilized. So we’ve been looking at some of those too and obviously we’ve just completed the CHP project but we’ll see reduction in energy consumption there just because we’re combining the electrical side of it but we’re also helping heat the pool. So that’s another project that’s now complete, but that one we should also see some reduction in our energy consumption along with the LED lighting project that was done in the community buildings and arenas. So we’ve already completed some things that will help Taber, but right now the solar project is the real big one.”
“I think this program is really good, because before we had a bunch of different departments looking at a bunch of different energy saving grants. Now it’s all just consolidated towards me and it’s much easier to just get one path going forward. I take input from all the departments and we have a list of several projects for those departments to put together. I hope that beyond this one year program we will still have changed how we operate in the future.”