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Partnership creates energy-saving position

Over the next 30 years, Langley Township’s population is expected to grow significantly.

With more people comes more energy consumption - and whether it is gasoline, natural gas, or electricity, those costs are expected to rise as well.

To help the community achieve greater energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and save money, a new position has been created through a partnership between the Township and BC Hydro.

Ryan Schmidt has been named the municipality’s new Community Energy Manager. Formerly an Environmental Coordinator with the Township, his role now is to work with residents, businesses, and developers to incorporate more power-saving features into homes and buildings, as new neighbourhoods are created.

“We will be looking at ways to encourage the development industry to invest in energy efficiency,” Schmidt said. “We will be working on policies that lead to more environmentally friendly communities and investing in programs to influence the way communities are built out.”

Since joining the Township in 2001, Schmidt has worked on several major initiatives, including developing a Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan and helping the Township create BC’s first green vehicle fleet. He has worked with local businesses to reduce energy consumption and provided education and outreach programs on water, energy, and climate change.

While working on a Community Energy and Emissions Plan, Schmidt learned that BC Hydro had started a new Sustainable Communities Program. Through the program, Hydro partners with municipalities and provides half of the funding required for the new Community Energy Manager’s position.

While Hydro educates the public and encourages an energy-saving lifestyle, it has no jurisdiction over communities or homes being built. To bridge that gap, Hydro is looking for allies at the municipal level. That is a perfect fit for the Township, which is committed to creating sustainable communities but is expecting to see its population double to 210,000 by 2040.

“We need to balance growth and sustainability, because one can’t come at the expense of the other,” said Schmidt. Although the Township is bound by the B.C. Building Code, Schmidt wants to work with developers to achieve higher levels of energy-efficiency.

The Community Energy Manager position will be in effect for one year, with the option to extend for another year. During that time, specific goals will be evaluated to measure the role’s effectiveness. The first step is to have the Township – which, as a community, spends more than $410 million on energy annually – commit to reducing its electricity consumption by one gigawatt hour (one billion watts) per year.

Investigating opportunities in the Carvolth neighbourhood, which is being developed in northwest Langley, and an energy efficiency workshop for developers, will be the first areas of focus for Schmidt, who is only the 13th Community Energy Manager in the province.

“This new position represents another milestone in the Township’s vision of sustainability for future generations,” said Ramin Seifi, General Manager of Engineering and Community Development. “It will lead the transition to a community that is less reliant on conventional energy by increasing public awareness, improving efficiency, and shifting dependence to renewable forms of energy. It will investigate and advance policies that contribute to development of complete, livable, and sustainable communities in the Township.”

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