Great Living Places Made Better
Municipalities can achieve energy independence and conservation for their community and residents. Municipalities can do a lot more to combat climate change.
Unlike developers that flip their assets quickly, the public sector owns them in perpetuity. While the private sector is driven by the quarterly results, municipalities set both policies and rates for their assets continued lifecycle. Yet common to both, lower front-end asset cost rather than long term ownership dominates. Small municipalities generally lack in-house experts that can weigh life cycle operating costs against initial asset costs.
To quote Frank Carnevale1 in a recent GreenStreet.ca article regarding hurdles facing municipalities:
· lack of stakeholder engagement and education
· lack of financial prowess
· rigid procurement policies
· lack of change management capabilities
· lack of inventory awareness
· industry norms (HVAC servicing)
· they generally own their utility and are seen biting the hand that feeds them
· fear of failure (no success of failure only varying degrees of success)
· old school developers fighting change
· old school general contractors and engineering firms peddling off-the-shelf plans
The Ontario mentality of “steady-as-she-goes” has served us well. We pride ourselves on a reasoned approach following the proven programs that outside leaders have made successful. In short, we are a risk averse society that’s highly skilled and educated. We traditionally have mined resources and manufactured input component products2. Why risk failure when others will gladly take the risk? In recent history the private sector has seen many successful entrepreneurs building world class giants in manufacturing and software such as Magna International and Shopify. The old adage that to be a successful Canadian entrepreneur you must leave to succeed, before returning to establish a branch operation of your own company is less and less common.
So, the mindset of the Canadian private sector has changed but the mindset of our public sector has changed little. Small municipalities still function in an old-world paradigm with their utility partners, contractors, engineers, and developers that have no incentive for change.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then there is no greater necessity than what lies ahead of us, and there is no better invention than the reinvention of our communities and small municipalities. Canada is the world leading integrated multiethnic democracy. A significant part of our success has been woven in the fabric of small municipalities. Without significant change and progress, we risk losing our position as a progressive beacon to the world. A significant and visible part of that progress must incorporate low carbon communities.
The integrated energy conservation audit and resulting plan delivered by professional, certified ESCO engineering consultants remains the most effective method to commission significant energy conservation and independence. Remember that small municipalities adjacent to larger cities average twice the energy consumption per capita as the cities themselves.
1Founder & Managing Director-EnerStream, Founding Member of the Clean Economy Network- Toronto
2During the 2 World Wars Canada made huge sacrifices but proved their manufacturing prowess at exporting manufactured goods and farm products to its allies