Red Deer College reducing carbon footprint

Innovative initiatives expected to more than offset carbon tax costs

Red Deer College’s annual carbon tax bill is expected to reach $300,000.

However, the college is already busy on energy-saving innovations that will offset that amount several times over.

Jim Brinkhurst, vice-president of college services and chief financial officer, said the college is focusing on various alternative energy options that can be pursued as part of a $10-million initiative announced last month.

“We have a current plan that over the next year there is going to be the installation of some of those alternative energy options at the college,” he said.

The college’s power plant is the focus of one cutting-edge initiative to use heat created from burning natural gas to produce electricity.

“It’s a very cost effective and a very good way of generating additional energy,” he said.

Another project will see a photovoltaic array installed at the college to generate electricity from sunlight.

A third initiative will see wind turbines erected to turn our Prairie breezes into power. The project would use what are known as vertical access turbines, which are smaller, four to five metres tall, than the large wind turbines many are familiar with.

“All those three will be pursued as best we can so, number one, we can lower our carbon footprint and secondly, obviously our energy costs will be reduced as well.”

When all of the technologies are in place, the college expects to save as much as $1.1 million in energy costs annually.

Over the next five years the college expects to reduce its carbon emissions by 20 per cent through measures outlined in its Green Energy Master Plan.

The federal government is contributing $4.8 million under the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

It will bankroll an Alternative Energy Innovation Lab.

“What that allows us to do is work with business and industry on helping them trying to adopt these technologies into their businesses and we’re also incorporating it into our teaching and learning.”

Program graduates will be able to go into the community with the experience of installing, maintaining and working with the latest technologies.

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