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New Fort St. John RCMP detachment set to be ‘net-zero’ for emissions

Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Garth Frizzell

Ottawa and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have announced $11.5 million for two ‘net-zero’ municipal building projects – one in Fort St. John and one in North Cowichan.

In Fort St. John, a new net-zero-energy building will be constructed and leased to the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment to replace their existing 35-year-old building. For maximum energy efficiency and operational cost savings, the new four-story building will control heat loss and gain, minimize electricity consumption, and use energy-efficient mechanical heating-venting-cooling (HVAC) systems.

The projects are funded through the Green Municipal Fund (GMF). The GMF is funded by the Government of Canada and delivered to municipalities by FCM.

“As the Energetic City, we know energy, and the most valuable form of energy is what you conserve,” said Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman. “With the Green Municipal Fund’s support, this building will significantly reduce the energy required to operate, reducing the annual operating costs and lowering our emissions. The replacement RCMP detachment has been an identified need in Council’s strategic plan for several years, and we are excited to see construction ongoing.”

The new four-storey building envelope will include a reception area, detainment cells, exhibits units, a forensic identification unit, a crime reduction unit, a support services unit, a drugs and serious crimes unit, and municipal, provincial and federal units. The new building will be constructed on a site adjacent to the existing RCMP detachment building. It will be municipally owned and leased by the RCMP.

The municipality has identified three key strategies to meet its net-zero goal: (1) increasing the building’s thermal performance; (2) making the building’s operational systems more efficient; and (3) generating on-site renewable energy. The city also plans to maximize energy efficiency by optimizing the building’s envelope through the control of heat loss and gain, minimizing energy consumption of lighting and electrical devices, and using energy-efficient mechanical HVAC systems. The building’s roof and HVAC systems have been designed to allow for the installation of a 150kW solar photovoltaic; however, BC Hydro currently limits the addition of on-site generation to 100kW under its Net Metering Program. This means that while the building will be net-zero-ready on project completion, it will not be able to achieve net-zero-energy performance.

“Local governments influence half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Frizzell. “That means local action is critical. With support from the Green Municipal Fund, this is what’s happening: municipalities of all sizes are implementing smart climate solutions—like reducing GHG emissions through locally generated renewable energy. Empowering this local expertise is vital to meeting Canada’s national climate goals. When orders of government work together and take action on climate, we’re building more resilient communities.”

The District Municipality of North Cowichan will conduct a feasibility study to determine the specifications required to make the local RCMP detachment building a net-zero facility. The study will explore a range of measures, including optimizing the building’s envelope, lighting and HVAC systems, and adding an on-site solar photovoltaic system to generate energy.

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