Implementing Renewables

The geoexchange system takes advantage of the ground's heating and cooling properties to heat or cool entire buildings. This heat 'exchange' between the ground and the building is accomplished by using standard pump and compressor technology.Renewable energy sources can displace fossil fuels, e.g. displacing natural gas with geoexchange for space heating can reduce emissions significantly. While most systems referenced in this section are primarily renewable, some (such as geoexchange) still require electrical power input. Others, such as landfill gas recovery, may include other non-renewable components.

Renewable sources such as geoexchange can displace electric heating systems such as electric baseboards. From an emissions perspective, though BC’s Hydro power is primarily based on renewable sources and emissions targets have been set, there are arguments for displacing electric space heating with other renewable sources:

  • The BC Energy Plan (2007) set a conservation target to acquire 50% of BC Hydro's incremental resource needs through conservation by 2020
  • Electricity may be needed as a key energy source for our future transportation systems and vehicles, to displace fossil fuels

Most communities have potential for local, renewable or low-emissions energy sources. These sources can potentially supply heating, cooling and power needs for community buildings and industry, as well as local government buildings and infrastructure, with examples as follows:

Community buildings

  • The energy from the sun is virtually free after the initial cost has been recovered, displacing conventional energy; which usually results in a proportional decrease in GHG emissions.Renewable sources such as wastewater heat recovery or biomass combustion coupled with district energy systems, servicing new developments
  • On-site systems such as geoexchange (often horizontal loops) or solar thermal panels in house design
  • On-site systems such as geoexchange (often vertical loops or ocean/ground water loops) in larger buildings
  • Combined heat and power systems for large buildings or connected with district energy systems
  • On-site power generation such as small wind power turbines or solar PV panels, though cost effectiveness is more challenging with current economics

On-site systems may be facilitated through catalyst projects, and working with developers and industry to build capacity and promote innovative practices. Larger, commercial systems such as wind farms can also be facilitated with independent power producers or private utilities.

Local Government Buildings

Similar to community buildings, but in this case local governments have more control to implement these systems. Many local governments work with energy consultants or ESCOs to plan and design buildings or retrofits that will incorporate renewables.


  • Infrastructure facilities can incorporate renewable energy sources (similar to those for community and local government buildings) for heating, cooling and power supply
  • There are also energy opportunities within the footprint of some infrastructure systems – e.g., wastewater heat recovery and/or wastewater biogas digestion at a wastewater treatment plant; or landfill gas utilization
  • Combined heat and power systems, in conjunction with energy sources such as biogas
  • Remote locations may benefit from on-site power generation, such as from wind power turbines, solar PV panels, or micro-hydro).

In some situations local governments can potentially work with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who may pursue micro-hydro installations. As with many other types of energy projects, there are important environmental, social and other issues to consider.

Net metering supports the production of electricity on-site by enabling the selling or trading of excess power to the local electric utility. A single meter is allowed to spin backward when the customer’s system produces excess power; it spins forward when the grid supplies supplemental power. In some situations municipalities may want to take advantage of net metering to implement electricity production within their own facilities

Integrated Resource Recovery is a closed loop approach that  maximizes recovery from waste and supports integration of renewable energy sources.

The Community-Based Renewable Energy in BC - A Snapshot report provides;

  • A snapshot of community-based renewable energy projects in BC at the end of 2013;
  • comments on how BC’s legislative and policy framework and various dedicated programs across the province and over the years have supported the development of these projects; and
  • Suggests a strategy for moving forward. 

The Renewable Energy Guide for Local Governments from the Community Energy Association provides a wealth of further information, and is comprised of modules including: