Energy conservation

Energy conservation is necessary to reduce our demand for stationary power. According to their study, Julian Allwood and colleagues at the University of Cambridge analysed the buildings, vehicles and industry around us and applied "best practice" efficiency changes to them. They concluded that simple changes like installing better building insulation could cut the world's energy demands by three-quarters.

In Ontario, the Building Code has many shortcomings which allow new buildings to be much less energy efficient than we need. The previous version of the Ontario Building code for glass walls in condos did not specify an R-value for glass walls different than for windows. A minimum R-value was specified for non-glass walls.

In his Clean Break blog, Tyler Hamilton writes:

"There are nearly 410,000 apartment and condominium units in Ontario that could be—but aren’t—individually monitored for their electricity consumption.

"Instead, the buildings in which they’re located engage in “bulk” billing, meaning a single bill is issued for an entire building. The amount on that bill is equally divided by the number of individual residential units in that building.

"It’s a simple formula, sure, but it’s one that encourages waste. It means residents who make an effort to conserve and use relatively less electricity end up subsidizing those who always keep the lights on and load their homes with energy-hogging devices and appliances. There’s no incentive for them to conserve."

Read the full article at Sub-metering in condos, apartment units can lead to big reductions in electricity consumption

There are many tips for reducing electricity consumption on sites such as at

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has stated "Ontario's long-term energy target is to achieve a 7,100-megawatt peak electricity demand reduction and 28 terawatt-hours in energy savings by the end of 2030."

"The OPA shall plan to achieve through Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) a peak demand reduction target of 7,100 megawatts (MW) and an energy savings target of 28 terawatt-hours (TWh) by the end of 2030. Further, the OPA shall plan to achieve interim CDM targets as follows: 4,550 MW and 13 TWh by the end of 2015; 5,840 MW and 21 TWh by the end of 2020; and 6,700 MW and 25 TWh by the end of 2025. These interim CDM targets are to serve as milestones to measure progress towards the overall 2030 CDM target. "

A demonstration project, the Now House project turned a 60-year-old WWII house into a near zero energy home—one that produces almost as much energy as it uses for a total of cost $85,000.

According to the 2011 census there are over 5.3 million private residences. Assuming that just half of these residences are old be be enough to require a major energy retrofit the total cost would be in excess of $225 billion. How much renewable energy could that money generate? Energy conservation is important but perhaps it makes more sense to do the free or less expensive energy conservation projects rather than full retrofits to a net zero standard. [Danny Harvey suggests below that this figure could be in the range $80-160 billion.]

The costs for a commercial scale wind turbine in 2007 ranged from $1.2 million to $2.6 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed ( For simplicity let's assume $2.25 million per MW of capacity. $225 B would buy 100,000 MW of wind nameplate capacity and 30,000 MW of actual capacity(see comment below.)

As noted elsewhere on this site, Ontario's electricity demand is around 22,500 MW and OPA has projected that it will grow to 40,000 MW by 2025. However, if more agressive conversion to electricity is considered the projection is approximately 175,000 MW.

Therefore $225 B could be used to build over 17% of our maximum projected demand for 2025. That figure does not take into account agressive energy efficiency nor dropping costs of installing wind turbines.

ZCO invited comments on the guesstimates above and got replies from:

Danny Harvey is Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Harvey pursues research in the areas of computer climate modelling as well as options to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases associated with energy use. His modeling work is focused on understanding past climatic changes and projection of future climatic change due to emissions of greenhouse gases, with a particular emphasis on coupled climate-carbon cycle models and the impacts of different future global energy scenarios.

He has published three dozen articles, served as lead author on IPCC Technical Report No.2 (An Introduction to Simple Climate Models Used in the IPCC Second Assessment Report), and has published two books: "Global Warming: The Hard Science", Prentice Hall, 2000 (a graduate-level textbook), and "Climate and Global Environmental Change", Prentice Hall, 2000 (an undergraduate-level textbook). He is also on the editorial board of the journal, "Climate Change".

Gregory Allen, is a Senior Associate with Sustainable EDGE Ltd.

Upon completion of his degree in engineering and studies in architecture, Greg Allen began his career in the renewable energies industry, designing and building low energy solar houses. Greg set up Canada’s first solar collector manufacturing operation. Subsequently he was president of Allen-Drerup-White Ltd., a highly respected low- energy building design and construction firm. He also co-developed the first Heat Recovery Ventilator, which grew into in the Air Changer Corporation.

Greg has worked on advancing sustainability for 35 years as a designer, builder, community planner, inventor, researcher, manufacturer, policy advisor, community activist and environmental consultant. As Senior Associate of Sustainable EDGE Ltd., his activities include advanced building systems, renewable energy applications, ecologically engineered treatment facilities, and sustainable community planning. Greg is a LEED® Accredited Professional.