Apr 25, 2023
Governments around the world are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Consider Canada’s goal to be net zero by 2050. With targets in place, businesses and organizations are tasked with understanding their own emissions and finding ways to limit them. But where to begin? What’s the cost? On episode 110 of thinkenergy, Glenn Mooney, Manager of Energy Services for Envari Energy Solutions, shares the business case to operate a more sustainable (and competitive) business in the age of net zero targets.
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Dan Seguin 0:06
This is Think Energy, the podcast that helps you better understand the fast changing world of energy through conversations with game changers, industry leaders, and influencers. So join me, Dan Seguin as I explore both traditional and unconventional facets of the energy industry. Hey, everyone, welcome back. The issue of climate change has resulted in a global mission by governments around the world to set targets in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In response, businesses and organizations have been tasked with understanding their own emissions, and finding ways to reduce them. But where do businesses begin? Identifying all sources of emissions a business produces can be a daunting task, especially for large organizations with complex operations. Furthermore, collecting, measuring and analyzing data can be time consuming and challenging, especially if the data is dispersed across various systems and departments. It requires specialized equipment, and expertise plus, government regulations can be complex and ever changing, making it difficult for businesses and organizations to stay up to date with the latest requirements. Finally, there is an issue of cost where many businesses and organizations may struggle to justify the expense, especially if they operate in a highly competitive industry with narrow profit margins. How do they navigate what funding and rebates are available? So here is today's big question. How can businesses be informed about their own emissions, and get on track to become a more competitive and sustainable business in the age of net zero targets? Joining us today is Glen Mooney, manager of energy services for inquiry. Glen is responsible for business development, and programs for a variety of energy management and energy advisory services. Glenn, so great to have you join us today. Now, Glenn, perhaps you can start by telling our listeners about Envari and the type of programs and services the organization provides.
Glenn Mooney 2:43
Sure. Envari has been around since 2001. So we just celebrated our 20th anniversary last year, kind of the year before during COVID, so it wasn't much of a celebration. We formed... we've grown out of what was called Energy Ottawa, we've rebranded to Envari a few years back. So that's kind of the history of the organization, we've broken it into three practices, we have a lighting practice, an electrical practice and a buildings practice. And we provide pretty much anything to do with buildings, energy, not just electricity, but electricity, gas, water, Steam, carbon, anything that is a resource or an energy based element. We do on the building side. So I'm responsible for the building side and kind of anything that happens inside them. So we do a lot of systems design for building systems. We do a lot of engineering and audits and assessments and feasibility studies, a lot of green building initiatives. But the one thing we're probably best at is we do a lot of projects, we've probably done well over 1000 energy and sustainability projects from end to end - concept to commissioning, we call it so HVAC, and building automation, ultra efficient heat pumps. We've done a lot of work in that space lately, building automation and controls and doing some really interesting things on the control side, anything data, energy data, carbon data, doing tracking for our customers, and helping to support them with analyzing data and giving them tangible results out of what we find - distributed energy resources. So we've tried to create a business that fits in an area that wasn't serviced well. And I think that served us very well over time.
Dan Seguin 4:12
Cool. So Glen, what are some of the common challenges businesses face when trying to achieve their greenhouse gas emission targets? And how can you help them overcome these challenges?
Glenn Mooney 4:27
Yeah, I think the biggest thing is just where to start. This is a new world. It's a new world for all of us. It's a big shift, and they just need some help, some support. Where am I? How do I start? Where do I need to go? What kind of pathway probably an overused term but it fits for the purpose of chasing carbon. The big thing I guess we can help with is the expertise but just we've been through it, so end-to-end again, you need support right from the top. So you need support from your, your CEO level, your CFO level. That's the big challenge because the economics of this is a bit challenging. The asset management people, the operations people is just getting them engaged, get the stakeholders engaged because a lot of money is a big part of this. So it's it's managing that... managing it versus capital plans, those sorts of things. So like we as a company, or as a group of companies, we've kind of taken what our CEO calls a moonshot, we were trying to go to net zero by 2030. And it's going to be a challenge, but hey, we're going to do it.
Dan Seguin 5:23
Now. Glenn, can you help me better understand how you typically approach the analysis of the company's energy usage? And identify areas where improvements can be made?
Glenn Mooney 5:37
Yeah, we start with what we call it an energy balance, which kind of informs a carbon balance. So that's basically taking how much energy does the building use? How does it use it? How does that convert into carbon or your CO2 emissions, or your greenhouse gases, your footprint, whatever you want to call it, and then we start to break it down. There's a lot of intelligence we can get from information just being in some buildings, understanding how systems work and kind of break down that - how is natural gas used in a building? How is electricity used in the building? And then what can you do about the carbon sources like the natural gas? How do you kind of translate those into potential measures that can reduce that footprint, it's tough the grid, you'll never it's tough to get to a zero because the grid itself is not clean. So even just recently, the Ontario grid as they used to say it was 93% clean, it's now closer to 90, because we brought on a little bit more carbon generation for a while. There's some refurbishment is going on in the nuclear side of things. So it's a it's a bit of a challenge to get to zero, there are ways to do it. And that's the path that we try to find. It also kind of brings up as a whole hybrid one, do you still do want the gas meter off the building? Or are you willing to use gas in really tough times when it's an extremely cold day that maybe some of the other surfaces or sources can't totally get you all the heat that you need, say on a cold, cold winter day?
Dan Seguin 6:54
Okay, now, Glenn, maybe you can give an example of a successful energy efficiency project, Envari has implemented for a business that is helping them achieve their greenhouse gas emission targets?
Glenn Mooney 7:08
Sure. I guess the one that comes to mind is kind of a large campus multi use multifunction looking at everything from solar to tons of carbon reduction efforts, looking at their fleet and electric vehicle charging, and the infrastructure that goes with it, the biggest thing with a lot of this new shift to less carbon is the impact on the electrical capacity of the facilities or their own network. And then also, how does it impact the utility, the local distribution company like Hydro Ottawa, because we're now asking for more electricity to support this. A lot is done in building automation systems. So we spend a lot of space there and probably more retro commissioning. The best thing to do is lower your load as low as you can first and then look at other ways of delivering the heating and the cooling to the building. So retro commissioning is one just let's let's minimize the load first, and then start from there. And then the HVAC systems, look at what alternatives are there to existing carbon consuming gas devices in a building. So that's where that hybrid discussion comes in. And it I emphasize that because it is a bit of a mind shift for people, they may want to... let's just get that meter off the building. As I said before, we really need to think that decision through because that's got a lot of impact economically, when you try to go build your business case for it. I think the biggest thing for them sorry, Dan, is just to really match it with your capital plans, let's not throw out good equipment right away. And that's a tendency to kind of model things that way. But let's look at... is that boiler due for replacement in say in 2032, or 33? Let's plan on that, unless you've got a more aggressive target. But let's try to match it up with how you're actually going to do your lifecycle of your equipment.
Dan Seguin 8:47
Now, what role does technology and innovation play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions for businesses? And how does Envari stay up to date with all of those latest technologies?
Glenn Mooney 9:01
So we've mentioned it earlier, we've probably built over 1000 projects. So we know what equipment is out there. We're always engaged with the industry, the manufacturing side and the vendor side to understand what's out there. But we also go beyond that. We've done quite a few pilots. We did one recently, for Natural Resources Canada, where we looked at cold climate heat pumps in real situations, we installed them in actual people's houses, and we monitored them, assessed them and figured out what the advantages were and what the economics of it were. And one of the big things that came out of it is just the improvement that's happened just even in the last three, four or five years to heat pump technologies. For example. We're seeing it more on the industrial side where we were seeing heat pumps right now that we can get 180 and 190 degree water out of temperatures that were never before able to be brought out of heat pumps. So those are big advances as a lot of technology and a lot of R&D going into those areas for different products. And I think we have to be also mindful of the fact that it's going to keep going. So to my example earlier of maybe changing a boiler out in 2020, or sorry, 2033, hard to keep track of time these days, we have to know that there's going to be better technologies then as well. So let's keep some hope for the future.
Dan Seguin 10:15
Okay. How do you ensure that businesses stay compliant with government regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions?
Glenn Mooney 10:25
So we have a separate to practice that we we call Advisor Plus or I guess, a service where we actually help customers track their energy, track their carbon, advise them, when there's changes, advise them on how markets are going... is there any changes are there regulation changes carbon and commodity pricing of electricity and gas, other elements basically of commodity pricing, and just try to give them some good forecasting, we find that there's a lot of lot of tools out there available to everybody, there's so many sources of information, and we try to kind of bring it down to a simple one. And we provide that to them, rather than them having to go look for it.
Dan Seguin 11:04
Okay, I've got a follow up question here for you, Glen. How do you measure and track progress towards greenhouse emission reduction targets? And what metrics do you use?
Glenn Mooney 11:18
Yeah, and that's the tools part of it. So we have a couple of really great tools. One of them is a dashboard. And I think it's industry leadin, It brings in anything you want to bring into it, electricity, gas, water, steam, carbon, and it's got some really good artificial intelligence in it to A - help you run a facility and get some good insights into how your facility is running. But it's also that record that shows you how you're doing progress wise year over year, month over month, those sorts of things, the metrics we use, we tend to standardize on the federal metrics, because this is across Canada effort that's happening. So I will say Ener-Can probably the, they have a product called red screen that they use for their own modeling. So we tend to know that that will be updated as regular and we've decided as a company that that will be kind of our first level of metric as far as how greenhouse gases are calculated.
Dan Seguin 12:12
Okay, now, let's talk about affordability. How does a company balance the financial costs of implementing energy efficient projects, with the potential cost savings and environmental benefits.
Glenn Mooney 12:28
So there's a lot of grants and incentives and programs and offerings out there, keeping track of it is a challenge where they fit, where they don't fit, and how long the windows are open for, they come onto the market, and then they may be close. So there's limited time to maybe make application to some of these. So that's what we help our customers with is, here's what's available for your project. If there's an urgency to it, we get them through that quickly and get them applied and get them hopefully funded for these because these are not great business cases in a lot of times so those grants are essential to actually driving this forward. It's tough sometimes to make business cases these are these are the realities is natural gas is cheaper than electricity right now, our job is to try to find a way to make it more economically feasible to move to a less carbon intensive source. So that's a challenge. And I mentioned it earlier, getting to that CFO level, educating them on this type of business case, because it's not the simple energy efficiency, simple payback business case, there used to be this longer term play here with longer term implications. So it's getting everybody involved, it's getting shareholders to make a commitment, and then educating people from the top to the bottom.
Dan Seguin 13:36
Now, Glen, how do you educate and train businesses on best practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions? And what role do employee engagement and behavioral change play in this process?
Glenn Mooney 13:51
Yeah, so it is getting that buy in from the top the shareholders and quite often, that's where it'll come from. It'll come from a shareholder statement. And then the rest of the organization needs to walk the talk. And the people at the top, the executive organization needs to actually walk that talk and show that they're serious about doing this, the CFO has to understand the economics of it and be prepared to support it, it's a lens to this. It's a very, these are very precious resources, and it's how they look at it, you've got to kind of create that lens that everything you do in your business needs to be focused on something like this, our kids will figure it out for us because they're going to tell us when we're offsides, that's what a lot of us are going to bring this, and hear from our own families... what are you guys doing in your business? So I think that's one of the neat pressures that probably gonna hold your feet to the fire on this one. So it's a challenge to get everybody to buy in. But I think good examples, and as we move down this path, I think we're gonna see more and more successes that are going to make it easier for the next company to pick it up and go with it.
Dan Seguin 14:45
Okay. How do you ensure that energy efficiency measures are sustainable, and can be maintained over the long term?
Glenn Mooney 14:56
That's the data part of it is tracking. We do a lot of data acquisition and data analysis with insights. But then we also do a lot of measurement and verification, because this is one of the things that will happen as people make commitments to reducing carbon, there's always going to be watchdogs out there watching to make sure that you've lived up to what you said you're going to live up to. So having that measurement and verification by, kind of an unbiased or an independent group, which we perform a lot for clients, I think is a big part of that, because your going to need to some point, put a stamp on it and say, yes, we saved this much carbon.
Dan Seguin 15:30
Finally, Glen, what advice do you have for businesses that are just starting to address their greenhouse gas emissions? And what are some of the most important steps they can take to achieve their targets?
Glenn Mooney 15:45
I'd say find a friend with knowledge we all do that. There's a tendency because it's new to try to solve the solution in house yourself and try to educate yourself and bring yourself up to speed. But I always believe in surrounding yourself with smart people and just reach out to the people that have already done it, we do the same, like we're not all knowing nobody knows all of this, I think we know a really good share of it. But we have some really smart partners around us that we'll often lean on to provide different components of it that we may not have in house, but we try to have the best minds in the industry around us to support us when we're dealing with customers.
Dan Seguin 16:19
Okay, Glenn. Lastly, we always end our interviews with some rapid fire questions, sir. Are you ready?
Glenn Mooney 16:30
I am ready.
Dan Seguin 16:31
Okay, here we go. What are you reading right now?
Glenn Mooney 16:35
It's a book called bear town. It's about a fictitious hockey team. And I won't give it away. But in in another country, you don't really figure that out till halfway through the book. But I played a lot of hockey when I was younger. So I kind of relate to this. Good Book.
Dan Seguin 16:47
Glenn, what would you name your boat? If you had one? Or maybe you do.
Glenn Mooney 16:51
I do not have a boat. I spent a lot of time in my younger years around friends at race boats. I spent a lot of time in boat racing. And I guess the one that sticks in my head was a boat that was just physically a beautiful boat very fast. And it was called Color Me Gone and that's a name that always stuck with me is that was he lived up to his name?
Dan Seguin 17:09
Okay, who is someone that you admire?
Glenn Mooney 17:13
I'd have to go with my father - my parents are amazing people, but my father and my ex... or not my ex father in law. My father in law that just passed away a couple years ago, actually, during COVID. They were just very good people. And my father in law, the way he lived his life was just... be kind of people and that's one that I've always I saw the impact that it had around people. When he passed away there a couple years ago, he was just known as a very kind, gentle person.
Dan Seguin 17:40
Okay, next one here. What is the closest thing to real magic that you've witnessed?
Glenn Mooney 17:46
I saw David Copperfield live actually at the NAC. And I can remember walking, I was going, I have no idea. It was cool. It was entertaining. But... and the other magic I've had in my life personally, is I was behind the net for the golden goal in Vancouver at the Olympics. So that's a that was a pretty magical moment in another way.
Dan Seguin 18:05
Okay. Glen, what has been the biggest challenge to you personally, since the pandemic began?
Glenn Mooney 18:14
So one of one of the things I did and I'm, I guess a little bit different, and COVID... I actually lost weight. Because I was working at home, I was very dedicated. I needed to lose weight. So I went and did it. The struggle part of that is keeping it off. So kind of changed lifestyle, you creep back, you kind of make adjustments to go back. So I'm not sure I'm winning yet. But I'm trying hard.
Dan Seguin 18:32
Okay, now, we've all been watching a lot more Netflix and TV lately. What's your favorite movie or show?
Glenn Mooney 18:41
So what I'm hooked on right now is called Loudermilk. I don't think it's Netflix. I think it's a it's a prime one. It's just funny, I just sorry. It's my type of humor. And I kind of relate to it. It's good. We just finished Daisy Jones in the six which I thought was good. Somebody said last week, I never clued into this, but it's kind of loosely based on the whole drama of Fleetwood Mac. So as so soon somebody said that, I was like okay, now I get it. So yeah, very good series.
Dan Seguin 19:05
Lastly, what's exciting you about the industry right now.
Glenn Mooney 19:10
So I've done this for... I did the math the other day, over 30 years that I've been in the energy type business. And I would say that this is just accelerated about 10 fold. We've done energy, this whole transition to climate change, carbon reduction, it's just foots all fully down on the on the accelerator for this. It's things are going to change so much in the next 20 years, probably far more than I've seen in 30 years before now. So I think that's pretty exciting. We have a lot of young engineers here that are just incredibly smart, but they've got a neat future ahead of them with this.
Dan Seguin 19:43
Well, Glenn, this is it. We've reached the end of another episode of The think Energy podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. If our listeners want to learn more about you. How can they connect?
Glenn Mooney 19:59
Envari.com, we have a bunch of video stories of the kind of work we've done. And I would say that just go go take a look at our website, and we've done a really nice job of it and our comms people have done a great job at just trying to frame the work that we've done. So check it out. Envari.com.
Dan Seguin 20:14
Again, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you had a lot of fun.
Glenn Mooney 20:20
It was great. Thanks, Dan.
Dan Seguin 20:21
Cheers. Thanks for tuning in for another episode of The think energy podcast. Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review wherever you're listening. And to find out more about today's guests or previous episodes, visit thinkenergypodcast.com I hope you will join us again next time as we spark even more conversations about the energy of tomorrow.