Reducing energy use in correctional facilities

Photo courtesy EllisDon
Photo courtesy EllisDon

By Frank Gonzalez
The Government of Canada’s commitment to sustainable development continues to drive its efforts in greening its operations. Such work offers an opportunity to help protect and conserve the environment, as well as contribute to the economy.

The Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) is Canada’s centre of excellence for energy, efficiency, and alternative fuels information. It is mandated to strengthen and expand the country’s dedication to energy efficiency to help address the government’s policy objectives.

Ottawa has committed Canada to a range of measures aimed at decreasing air emissions. Reduced energy use is the most effective and immediate means of meeting these promises and is a valuable tool for environmental protection. Integrating energy efficiency into construction projects also makes good business sense. A one-time investment in energy efficiency today helps achieve ongoing financial benefits tomorrow.

As an indication of just how far the sustainable building movement has come, even prisons are turning ‘green.’ This includes new construction as well as renovation and retrofit projects to make existing buildings more sustainable. There are many initiatives being implemented by both the Federal Corrections System and in each province.

For example, replacing the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre presented an opportunity to build a new, sustainable building with the goal of achieving an energy efficiency target 30 per cent better than Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) standards. Another example is Windsor, Ont.,’s South West Detention Centre, a 315-bed male and female state-of-the-art detention centre. Set to open in 2013, it is focused on achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

A heat recovery system was installed in 2004 on the boiler stacks to capture the heat from the waste flue gases. The system recovers 15 per cent of the heat lost from the central heating plant at Leclerc Institution in Laval, Québec. Photo courtesy Correctional Service of Canada
A heat recovery system was installed in 2004 on the boiler stacks to capture the heat from the waste flue gases. The system recovers 15 per cent of the heat lost from the central heating plant at Leclerc Institution in Laval, Québec.
Photo courtesy Correctional Service of Canada

Federal Building Initiative
The Federal Building Initiative (FBI) is a comprehensive program designed to provide federal facility managers with an opportunity to realize the benefits of improved energy efficiency. Launched in the early 1990s to support retrofits of Canadian federal facilities, the program can help an organization cut energy costs while making buildings more comfortable.

Under FBI, federal organizations are authorized to use private-sector funding (energy performance contracting [EPC]) to finance improvements. Further, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) provides ‘services’ to assist organizations, while monthly savings in utility (i.e. energy and water) expenses are used to pay for project costs. (See “Charting a Course to Energy Independence: Sustainability and Greening Initiatives for Canadian Federal Buildings” from GovEnergy and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). In order to read the report, visit www.govenergy.com/2009/pdfs/presentations/Sustainability-Session02/Sustainability-Session02-Izsak_George.pdf).

Canada’s correctional system
The federal, provincial, and territorial governments share the administration of correctional services in the country. The Correctional Service of Canada is responsible for administering court-imposed sentences for offenders imprisoned for a minimum of two years.

The focus of Correctional Service of Canada’s mandate is to contribute to a just, peaceful, and safe society through the care and custody of inmates, as well as the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into the community. To carry out its mandate, Correctional Service of Canada operates penitentiaries and parole offices. It also employs approximately 16,000 staff across the country and manages:

  • 58 institutions;
  • 16 community correctional centres;
  • 71 parole offices;
  • five regional headquarters and a national headquarters; and
  • a fleet of approximately 1150 road vehicles. (For more information, see “Sustainable Development Strategy 2007–2010” by Correctional Service of Canada. Visit www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pblct/environmentRpt/sds_e.pdf).

Maintaining this extensive operation does not come without costs. A study by the Québec Institute for Socio-economic Research and Information (IRIS) revealed annual maintenance and operation costs for prisons will reach $1.6 billion for the federal government and $2.2 billion for the provinces in 2012. Additionally, the annual cost of housing a prisoner in Canada can run anywhere from around $52,000 to $250,000 per person, depending on the facility’s security level (Figures 1 and 2).

This chart shows the amount of money the Correctional Service of Canada spends on energy annually (figures for last five fiscal years).
This chart shows the amount of money the Correctional Service of Canada spends on energy annually (figures for last five fiscal years).
This table is Correctional Service of Canada’s energy use in giga-joules for the past seven years. The group has been decreasing its energy consumption even though it has been expanding in terms of number of occupants and its building footprint. Between 2004 and 2011, Correctional Service of Canada has decreased its normalized energy use (MJ per m2) by more than six per cent. It will continue its efforts to conserve energy.
This table is Correctional Service of Canada’s energy use in giga-joules for the past seven years. The group has been decreasing its energy consumption even though it has been expanding in terms of number of occupants and its building footprint. Between 2004 and 2011, Correctional Service of Canada has decreased its normalized energy use (MJ per m2) by more than six per cent. It will continue its efforts to conserve energy.

Lighting controls and energy consumption
Lighting in commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings often represents as much as 40 per cent of the total electricity costs for those facilities worldwide. (See Leslie Berliant’s “New Way to Reduce Power Consumption for Industrial and Commercial Lighting Promises Huge Savings,” at www.emergingenergy.com). Lighting systems are responsible for larger proportions of overall energy use than other systems—such as HVAC or motors. Aside from indoor environmental controls, lighting systems are responsible for the maximum energy use and expenses.

Finding new ways to reduce energy use can be challenging, and budget cutbacks continue to make maintaining a facility difficult. However, lighting controls offer an excellent opportunity for
energy reduction.

Occupancy sensor lighting controls are very effective; lights simply do not turn on unless movement is detected—this helps cut utility use by as much as half. This type of sensor can be placed into the panel board as well so all of the electricity is turned off until the room becomes occupied.

By using resources more efficiently, correctional institutions can free up funding, staff time, and facility space for other security-oriented activities. In a sample facility with 1200 beds, if utility prices increase by as little as five per cent annually over the next 20 years, the cost to the institution could be as high as $1.2 million or more, which is $1000 per inmate. (For more, see “7 Steps to Save $1000 per Inmate by ‘Going Green:’ How Sustainable Corrections Can Easily Save Your Budget and the Environment,” in Corrections One. Visit www.correctionsone.com/facility-design-and-operation/articles/2473021-7-steps-to-save-1-000-per-inmate-by-going-green).

Control the content you see on ConstructionCanada.net! Learn More.
Leave a Comment

Comments

Your email address will not be published.