Written by: Brandon Cosman
On June 7th/8th, 2022, NB Power hosted their annual Energizing Efficiency Conference at the Trade and Convention Centre in Saint John, NB. This was their first time holding the event in an in-person public setting in 3 years since the beginning of the *shudder* COVID-19 pandemic. And what a breath of fresh air it was! The event attracted the attention of many and brought out more than 280 attendees to the iconic port city, and enthusiasm filled the air. The conference was a mix of energy managers, consultants, vendors, students, and more.
As the name of the event implies, the focus was to engage those involved in the energy efficiency industry to become energized about the accomplishments we as a province have made and to keep this momentum going as we throttle full steam ahead towards our net-zero climate goals.
Here are a few quick-fire facts that were presented (keep these handy for your next summer BBQ and you’re sure to impress your family and friends):
- 80% of NB Power’s generated electricity is zero emissions.
- This is a 77% reduction since 2005.
- The end goal is to become net-zero by 2035.
Being 80% of the way to net-zero is a huge accomplishment in itself and this is something to celebrate; however, there is still a ways to go. For anyone familiar with the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule), it takes about 20% of our effort to achieve 80% of the results. The remaining 20% to completion typically requires more effort, which is 80%. In our case this means that the largest effort left is to transition the remaining grid power generation to zero emission technology while maintaining grid reliability. With that being said, there is still much work to be done between now and 2035 to reach our climate goals and this will require an all-hands-on deck mentality. Fortunately, New Brunswick has many talented and bright minds committed to the challenge. Some interesting developments to keep an eye on will be the future of the Belledune Generating Station and the recent investment into the research of small modular reactors (SMRs).
The event kicked off on day 1 with breakfast in the main conference room, followed by a presentation from NB Power covering much of the information above. We also heard inspiring messages from prominent figures such as the Minister of Natural Resources, Mike Holland, and NB Power CEO, Keith Cronkhite. Afterwards, the conference took on a “choose your own adventure” approach; there were break out sessions throughout the day with typically 4 presentations running simultaneously that you could pick and choose which to attend. While these sessions were going on, there was also an area set up as a trade show that you could visit to learn more about different products and programs, or even get a professional picture taken at a photo booth if you needed a new LinkedIn (or Tinder) headshot.
The breakout session presentations covered a wide range of topics from planning your building’s path to carbon neutrality, energy benchmarking with EnergyStar Portfolio Manager, optimizing HVAC systems, geo-exchange system design, the future of Canada’s building codes, electric vehicles (with EVs in the parking lot you could test drive yourself!), and updates on the progress and accomplishments of local municipalities, just to name a few. No matter what background or specialization you have, there was surely a topic that would catch your interest and keep you eager to learn more.
The first day wrapped up with a trivia session testing our wits about all things energy as well as topics that were presented throughout the day (allow me to shamelessly brag that our team placed second). In the evening, we returned to the venue for dinner and a stand-up comedy show by CBC’s own Steve Patterson, host of The Debaters. The second day kicked off again with a group breakfast followed by the same breakout structure as the day before, with closing remarks at the end before we all parted ways. It was 2 days of inspirational talks, technical and informative breakout sessions, and making connections with other like-minded individuals who share similar passions. The conference was a true showcase to the ambitions of NB Power to lead us on our path to net-zero.
As I close out writing this article, I’ll share some final thoughts. I often reflect on how the fight against climate change may seem like a daunting task with enormous complexity – and it is, but if we set our sights on the issues within our own individual control, we can play our part in the overall solution and take pride in that. Whether it’s researching and deploying green energy generation; optimizing and reducing the energy/carbon footprint of buildings; implementing green policies through political channels; or adapting the latest building codes to our designs, no single person can handle all these tasks at once, but together with our own unique set of skills we can divide and conquer. We have the opportunity to become leaders and show the rest of the country, and the world, what’s possible when we work towards a common goal. I look forward to seeing this annual conference continue. Consider me energized.
For further information check out NB Power’s “Three Takeaways from the 2022 Energizing Efficiency Conference”: https://www.nbpower.com/blog/en/posts/2022/june/three-takeaways-from-the-2022-energizing-efficiency-conference/
Brandon Cosman, EIT, CEM, is an energy auditor with PMC Energy Performance out of Fredericton, NB. He has worked in the construction industry for over 6 years, specializing in commercial and industrial HVAC. His focus is with helping clients in reducing their building’s carbon footprint and finding utility savings through deep energy retrofits. Brandon is also an active member of ASHRAE and is currently the head of the NB/PEI Chapter newsletter.