Ontario energy chief urges power saving procurement

Ontario municipalities should appoint their own municipal energy conservation officers, who would serve as advocates for engaging local communities in creating a “culture of conservation” throughout the province.

This was one of 12 recommendations made Wednesday by Peter Love, Ontario’s chief energy conservation officer, in his 2007 annual report.

Love said certain Ontario communities already have someone performing this function to some degree, and that having a local “champion” for conservation will help the province meet its goal of saving 1,350 megawatts by 2010 and 6,300 megawatts by 2025.

“We must unify energy conservation efforts across the province to include all levels of government, institutions, businesses and consumers,” Love said in a statement.

In his annual report, Love also recommended the Ministry of Energy develop a comprehensive and cohesive energy conservation policy for all government departments that aligns the province’s electricity policies with other related policies, and consider those policies in the departments’ decision-making processes.

In addition, Love said, all government procurement and contracts should include requirements for energy efficiency, where applicable.

If a recent IDC Canada study is any indication, however, environmentally aligned procurement efforts among government agencies, or what’s referred to as “green procurement,” may be “more bark than bite” at this point in time.

“While topical and newsworthy, there is little real or measurable uptake in green procurement, despite the spin,” said Alison Brooks, senior analyst for government insights at Toronto-based IDC Canada, in a recent webcast on procurement trends in the Canadian government.

According to the IDC study, 65 per cent of municipal government agencies, 56 per cent of provincial governments and 38 per cent of federal agencies say there are currently no laws, policies or regulations that promote green procurement in government.

In addition, 78 per cent of respondents believe there is no mechanism in place to track green procurement efforts in government, Brooks said.

Despite these findings from IDC, certain government initiatives are having a positive effect on the environment, according to Ken Cochrane, CIO of the Government of Canada, in a previous interview with Intergovworld.com.

Consolidation of the IT infrastructure across the federal government, for instance, is succeeding in reducing power consumption in the data centres by maximizing server capacities.

“One of the powers of consolidation is to bring (the servers) together and get a much higher percentage of usage. When you consider that across thousands and thousands of servers, that is a big factor in greening – reducing the need for physical floor space, reducing the need for heating and cooling, and reducing the need for electricity that goes into these (servers), which is substantial,” said Cochrane.

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