What is a Renewable City?
A renewable city is one whose annual energy consumption is equal to or less than the amount of renewable energy generated or sourced in alternative to non-renewable energy sources.
Globally, cities are responsible for an estimated 75 per cent of energy consumption and an equivalent share of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the largest number of jurisdictions to have adopted a 100 per cent renewable target are municipalities. A few cities, such as Reykjavik and Burlington, Vermont have already achieved that goal in at least one sector.
Many other larger global cities have adopted a 100 per cent renewable energy goal in one or more of the electricity, heating and cooling, or transportation sectors. Some of these cities include Vancouver, Munich, Sydney, Hamburg, San Francisco, Barcelona, San Diego, and Malmö.
Regina’s Renewable Journey
The City of Regina’s commitment to being renewable by 2050 is reinforced by policies in Design Regina: The Official Community Plan (OCP) which outlines a community vision for Regina to be “Canada’s most vibrant, inclusive, attractive, sustainable community where people live in harmony and thrive in opportunity.”
In recent years, the City has continued to advance several OCP policy goals through projects that have reduced emissions, energy consumption and the organization’s environmental impact, and which bring us closer to a renewable Regina.
“To protect, promote and expand Regina’s urban forest and street tree canopy”
Regina’s urban forest consists of more than 500,000 hand-planted trees that produce significant environmental benefit for the community.
Trees provide more benefit to communities than just aesthetics. They are a key component to helping slow and absorb rainfall, thereby reducing flooding and reliance on man-made stormwater management systems. On average, a mature tree can absorb up to 1,000 gallons of rainfall every year that would otherwise require an energy intensive process to pump and filter. It is estimated that every dollar spent on a tree in the city saves $6 in storm water infrastructure and energy costs.
Trees also help regulate temperature. During winter, they provide shelter from the cold winds, and in summer they provide shade, reducing heating and cooling costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the shade from trees, in combination with the water vapor they release, can reduce peak temperatures by as much as 11 to 25°C compared to unshaded areas. When shade is cast on an office building or home, internal temperatures can drop 4 to 6°C. It is estimated that shade from a single tree can save the same amount of energy used to power 10 room-sized air conditioners for 20 hours a day. It is estimated that Regina’s urban forest is responsible for removing the CO2 equivalent of 3,330 mid-sized vehicles.
In 2020, the City of Regina became one of nine Canadian cities to be recognized with the Tree Cities of the World designation by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Arbor Day Foundation. This international program celebrates cities that meet the five core standards for care and planning of urban trees and forests: establish responsibility, set the rules, know what you have, allocate the resources and celebrate achievements.
“To create sustainable transportation choices”
Encouraging more environmentally conscious transportation reduces greenhouse gas emissions and makes air cleaner and easier to breathe. It also helps develop complete neighbourhoods - an OCP Community Priority about creating safe and inclusive neighbourhoods that are easy to get around.
A key direction in the City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is to ensure that a range of sustainable transportation choices such as walking, cycling or transit are available to increase mobility and accessibility for residents of all ages and income levels. In support of the TMP, a Transit Master Plan is being developed that will chart the path forward for the City’s transit services, which includes exploring alternative fuel sources and new technologies to improve the overall efficiency and sustainability of the system. An on-demand transit pilot project will run from September to December 2020. It will assess route optimization through the use of software that enables transit riders to request service when needed on select routes.
Each year, the City invests in additional sidewalks and pedestrian connections along transit locations, focusing on important points that connect the sidewalk network, developing complete neighbourhoods. New on-street bikeways and multi-use pathways in existing Regina neighbourhoods are added annually, working toward the sustainable transportation goals set out in the OCP.
“To design infrastructure that conserves resources and minimizes impacts on the environment”
The City prioritizes environmental sustainability in facility design by focusing on key elements such as, energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their environmental impacts.
LEED certification for Fire Hall #4: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance. In 2013, the City of Regina received LEED Gold Standard certification for the construction of Fire Station #4. Achieving LEED certifications requires implementing reduction initiatives such as high-efficiency heating and cooling, energy efficient lighting, upgrades to doors and windows to improve energy efficiency, and designing exterior spaces to limit landscaping requirements. While Fire Station #4 is the only building with LEED certification, all new City facilities are built, and all facility renovations are completed, with the LEED principles in mind.
Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Upgrades: Energy efficiency was one of the main priorities when designing the new WWTP that was completed in 2018. Electrical consumption has been reduced through more efficient pumping equipment. Geothermal energy is the primary source of office space heating in the winter, reducing natural gas usage; and renewable biogas is used to heat the digesters.
Transit Fleet Maintenance Facility: This project involves constructing a new facility that will be attached to the existing Transit Operations Centre at 333 Winnipeg Street. It will enable the City to deliver expanded transit services to existing and new neighbourhoods. The facility is being designed and constructed to contemporary energy, environmental and sustainability standards to improve the working environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Waste Management Centre: As the City continues to grow, the number of Solid Waste collection vehicles has grown and is expected to continue to grow. This will continue to place increased pressure on the existing facilities, already at or beyond capacity.The new Waste Management Centre blends operational, environmental and energy efficiencies between the Solid Waste branches by sharing crew spaces, office support areas and vehicle and equipment storage.
McCarthy Boulevard Pumping Station (MBPS) Improvements: The City actively identifies opportunities to reduce its energy consumption to minimize the water network’s impact on the environment and to keep residents’ water bills affordable. A large construction project is finishing in 2020 that will result in increased water pumping capacity added to the MBPS. Although the work is being done to help eliminate sewer bypasses to Wascana Creek, the City prioritized reducing energy consumption when selecting and installing pumping equipment.
Maple Leaf and Wascana Pool(s): In 2020 and 2021, construction will occur on the Maple Leaf and Wascana outdoor pools. Energy efficiency and environmental sustainability are a priority for both. This will include water conservation features such as filtration systems and low consumption plumbing fixtures, as well as high efficiency heaters, LED lighting, variable speed pumps and solar panels to reduce electricity and natural gas consumption.
The City seeks out opportunities to generate energy using renewable sources. From leveraging biogas and geothermal at the WWTP and using solar generation to power our new pool installations to making the most of our waste methane at the landfill, the City has been committed to a transition to renewable energy sources for many years.
Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility: Since 2017, the City of Regina has operated a 1MW gas engine/generator that uses the methane gas from waste decomposition at the landfill for power generation. This renewable energy source feeds SaskPower’s grid and produces revenue for the City. The facility produces up to 7,800,000 kWh of electricity per year, enough to power over 1000 homes; and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30,000 tonnes per year, or the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.
Solar Lighting Pilot Project: The City is conducting a 5-year pilot project to test LED and solar lights along pathways, evaluating their performance in Regina’s cold winter climate. If successful, the City would look to expand the program beyond the pilot phase. Conversion to LED solar lighting would reduce electricity consumption in a park such as Victoria Park in downtown Regina by approximately 61,000 kWh annually which is equivalent to 8 homes.
Regina is a growing city. Investing in renewable and sustainable energy promotes best practices and provides a better environment for Regina’s current and future residents. The City is currently evaluating advancements in technologies that would reduce the emissions footprint of the vehicle fleet, including alternative energy sources for vehicles and equipment. These initiatives and more will be considered in the development of the Energy and Sustainability Framework for becoming a renewable city by 2050.
Some of the work currently being planned includes:
East Pressure Solution: The City requires an expansion to the water delivery network to increase storage capacity and ensure that future development can receive adequate and appropriate water pressure. These expansions typically consume a large amount of energy in the form of both power and natural gas. A key consideration for the design of the future solution is energy efficiency, especially reducing the amount of energy consumed by the pumps that move water through the network. Part of this work will involve investigating options for installation of renewable power generation. Work begins in 2020 and continues over several years.
Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) Meter Technology: The City is investing in AMI water meter technology that will help the City, residents and businesses to better understand water consumption in real time. For residents and businesses, it will assist with conserving water by helping to identify unexpected usage, such as a leaky toilet, and to realize the impact, in real time, of activities such as watering the lawn. For the City, it will help in detecting and fixing water leaks sooner, leading to less wasted water. The system also eliminates the need for City staff to drive through neighbourhoods to collect water meter readings for billing – indirectly cutting down on vehicle fuel consumption. Reducing upfront water consumption means less energy is required to treat, store, and deliver the water and it also means energy is not used to then transport and treat the wastewater. This project is ramping up during 2020 with the formal procurement for a consultant to guide the planning and delivery efforts. The project, which includes development, design, installation and construction will take approximately three years.
Telematics: Telematics encompasses any technologies used to acquire data in the field from vehicles and their systems using GPS location and sensors. This technology has been used within Regina’s City fleet for a decade, with planned expansion under the Telematics program over the next several years. Telematics enables improved route efficiency and utilization of the City’s fleet, reducing fuel consumption through reduction in idling and route optimization.
Energy Monitoring and Optimization Infrastructure: The City is piloting energy monitoring technology to reduce energy consumption in City facilities. Real-time energy consumption data will help the City identify where and how energy is being used and support administration in making decisions about how and where to implement change to reduce overall consumption.
Sustainable Procurement: City Council will soon consider a report with recommendations related to Sustainable Procurement. Sustainable procurement is the practice of embedding sustainability considerations into the selection of goods and services. It is also about ensuring all labour and environmental practices within the supply chain reflect the values of the City of Regina. These considerations are typically grouped into three categories: environmental, but also, ethical and social. The environmental category considers the environmental footprint of a product or service, choosing options that support clean and renewable industries and technologies, and reduce or mitigate negative environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, toxicity, energy consumption, and waste.