Biomass LEEDs to sustainability
By Bruno Zrno
March 23, 2017 - Twenty years ago, enthusiasm about a green, energy-efficient and sustainable environment would likely have made you pretty isolated. However, over the last 20 years, that enthusiasm became a way of thinking and living, and is soon (if not already) becoming mainstream. The green energy and sustainable technology markets are growing. This is not an opinion, it‘s a fact. It‘s also a fact that the Green Building Energy Council plays a big role in those markets.
By Bruno Zrno
I personally support the idea of LEED certified buildings and I also understand that there are people that don’t share my enthusiasm. But again, LEED is out there, regardless of what our opinions are. Canada has more than 2,500 LEED certified projects – second highest in the world. LEED Silver has been the minimum standard for new government funded buildings since 2006 in Alberta and Manitoba. BC Housing has implemented energy and sustainability design standards for the design and construction of all new social housing. Large supportive housing developments, such as those being constructed with funding from the Provincial Homelessness Initiative and the Aboriginal Housing Initiative are required to be built to LEED Gold. There are also mandates set by cities and municipalities where provincial mandates are missing.
LEED certified projects use less energy and water resources, save money, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for people in the community. There is a huge potential with LEED implementation in various industry sectors, municipal development and renewable energy development, towards a greener future.
Using renewable sources for your building’s energy needs will contribute towards LEED certification. It is commonly forgotten that wood biomass coming from sustainable sources is a green fuel. Canada has almost 10 per cent of world’s forests and 94 per cent Canadian forest is publicly owned. On top of that, Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management, with 166 million hectares of forest land that is independently certified (sustainably managed), representing 40 per cent of the world’s certified forests.
Contributing toward LEED certification using biomass fuels can be achieved with the implementation of biomass heating and/or combined heat-and-power (CHP) systems. Another benefit would be an implementation of a district heating system. Finally, wood biomass is considered a carbon neutral fuel.
The Bluenose Academy in Lunenburg, N.S., is a perfect example of how a successful pilot project is utilizing and promoting green energy solutions. The school is the first provincial government building in Nova Scotia with a fully-integrated wood pellet-fired biomass heating system. It is also the first building in Canada featuring a biomass heating system to obtain LEED Gold certification. It was the first project with wood pellets for all parties involved: architect, mechanical designer, contractor and LEED consultant. Renewable energy contributed to around 10 per cent of the overall points achieved towards LEED Gold certification.
Reminding and educating people about the benefits of biomass (wood heating) technology is an urgent necessity for the bio-heat market – a market that is not growing as fast as it should be. Simply put, the word is not spreading fast enough and, amusingly, we sometimes cannot see the forest from the trees.
Looking back on 2016, I can comfortably say that I am more than optimistic about the development of the bioenergy sector in Canada. We helped our partners and customers make a positive impact in their lives bringing renewable biomass and biogas solutions to their communities. Last year was a great “bio-year” for Viessmann, with 15 new commercial-industrial biomass projects across Canada.
On top of that, with the Muskoka Timber Mills project we have yet another wood biomass boiler installation in Ontario. With new emission regulations introduced in January, I envision a greener Ontario and more people following bio-heat pioneers and champions.
Finally, we are finalizing installation of a 390 kW (1,330 MBH) wood biomass boiler at our Canadian head office in Waterloo, Ont. Together with an already installed solar system, our facility will be fossil fuel independent, promoting sustainable and carbon neutral technology.