Going green in Oak Bay

Municipal departments seek eco-friendly building upgrades

A group of tennis players enjoy a game in the confines of the Oak Bay Rec Centre’s three-court tennis bubble. The structure will undergo a $35

A group of tennis players enjoy a game in the confines of the Oak Bay Rec Centre’s three-court tennis bubble. The structure will undergo a $35

Energy efficiency is the name of the game for two municipal facilities for which a reduction  in carbon footprint is being sought.

The Oak Bay fire hall and the Oak Bay Recreation Centre are each in the midst of eco-friendly upgrades, but have taken much different routes to get there.

For the fire hall, what started as a request for new windows has turned into a full-blown energy audit, as requested by municipal council.

On the advice of the heritage advisory panel, councillors hesitated to approve the windows, which are designed to reduce heat loss and provide better insulation. There were concerns that replacing the existing windows might take away from the hall’s heritage value, despite the fact Fire Chief Gerry Adam found window replacements which he said wouldn’t alter the look of the building.

“My view is we’re replacing wood with wood, and (the new windows) are more energy efficient. So (given the) cost savings, the carbon footprint, they’re all good reasons to replace them,” Adam said.

The possibility of replacing the windows still remains, but the results of the audit, expected some time this month, could lead to further energy efficiency upgrades.

The hall has already undergone a number of eco-conscious changes, including renovations to doorsills, lighting and the water system.

They’re all in service of a commitment made by Oak Bay council a few years ago to reduce energy use in the municipality.

Recreation Oak Bay has also undertaken several energy efficiency initiatives, the latest of which is a $35,000 project to insulate the three-court tennis bubble at its main facility on Bee Street. The bubble was replaced in 2008 after a fire, and at the time allowances were made for future work of this nature, said Lorna Curtis, director of parks and recreation.

The money saved as a result of the project made it an appealing decision, she added.

“The projects we choose are the ones that have a payback in less than five years,” she said.

It’s estimated that the improvement will save the municipality $8,100 per year.

Work on the insulation is expected to be complete by the end of September.

The project is part of phase one of Recreation Oak Bay’s energy management project, which includes upgrades to boiler systems, lighting and pool filtrations systems, among others.

Earlier this year, the department received an Ecostar Energy Award from the Capital Regional District as a result of its work.