Summary of CNL Concerns
Related to RFP 2022- 06

Lanark County Housing
Heating Retrofit Project

On April 7, Lanark County issued a Request for Proposals from bidders to convert the electrical heating in three of its large social housing buildings in Smiths Falls, Perth and Almonte to natural gas.

Climate Network Lanark responded and requested that the County act on its responsibility for its part in mitigating climate change and that it specifically:

  1. Cancel the RFP.
  2. Analyze the Greenhouse Gas and Financial implications of retrofitting the buildings for major efficiency improvements and conversion to heating systems that both, in the short-term and over their lifetime, emit the least Greenhouse Gas emissions possible.
  3. In this analysis, take into account:
         • the Federal Budget of April 7, 2022 and its new funds for energy retrofits, housing, and expected in the details, conversion to electric heat pumps, whether air or ground source, and hot water heat pumps;
         • then existing subsidies through the Green Municipal Fund of FCM/PCP of which Lanark County is a member courtesy of its wise decision to develop a Climate Action Plan;
         • the increasing Carbon Tax;
         • the fact that methane, which comprises natural gas, is more than 80 times worse for heating the planet than carbon dioxide;
         • the IPCC report of last week that states we are on track towards an unlivable world and strongly urges no new uses of fossil fuels past 2025.

Climate Network Lanark noted specifically that the County’s Climate Action Plan Committee has set as its top Guiding Principles the following:

  1. Eliminate Fossil Fuels
  2. Maximize Energy Efficiencies and Increase Renewable Energy Generation
  3. Reduce Waste

And that, within those Principles, the Committee has specifically prioritized:

  • Assess every action in the county and whether it reduces or eliminates the use of fossil fuels.
  • Apply a Climate Lens to County and Council purchases/decisions.
  • Plan for the rebuild of all County buildings to be Net Zero.

CNL says “The action by the County to issue an RFP that calls for converting social housing buildings away from electricity to natural gas goes against all the above. While the County’s Climate Action Plan is a work in progress, its essence has been well established and endorsed by members of County Council. A major RFP such as this should follow those principles. Anything less wastes money now, takes us down the wrong path, and will have to be righted, at higher cost, at some point in the near future.

“While we don’t have access to the technical background of this RFP, a general analysis of the 52 housing units under consideration would suggest that this retrofit would result in the generation of over 100,000 kg CO2 each year over the lifetime of the units. We can appreciate the cost considerations that likely went into the decision – natural gas is currently much less costly than electric baseboard heating. However, current electric heat pump technology can deliver heat at a lower operating cost compared with natural gas, even more so when the steadily increasing carbon tax is taken into consideration.”

CNL also offered, as part of its contribution to Lanark County’s Climate Action Plan, and to a suitable RFP, that it would be pleased to assist with sourcing appropriate resources to evaluate the buildings and their efficiency potential, and suppliers of non-fossil fuel systems.

This intervention resulted in the County adjusting its RFP to add the option of heat pumps. However, it is CNL’s opinion that this does not go far enough, it is insufficient in terms of complying with the Guidelines from the CAP committee and makes proceeding with the project challenging if not impossible. The buildings need to be analyzed for the greenhouse gas and financial implications of retrofitting the buildings for major efficiency improvements and conversion to heating systems that both, in the short-term and over their lifetime, emit the least Greenhouse Gas emissions possible.

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