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Jason Kita: Richmond energy system leads municipal climate change fight

The City of Richmond’s award-winning district energy project, at least as Jason Kita sees it, strongly positions the British Columbia municipality as a North American leader in finding innovative solutions to the growing climate change emergency.

Kita, Director of Richmond’s Corporate Programs Management Group, shared his thoughts on the district energy project, the award, and the municipality’s environmental commitment when he sat down with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner in Quebec City.

“It really highlights our City of Richmond council, their contribution, and their dedication toward climate change,” Kita said. “Our city council have committed to having our 2007 GHG – community greenhouse gas emission – targets, reduced by 33 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Our district energy utility really helps us advance and meet those targets.”

District Energy Offers Innovative Solutions

District energy, Kita said, uses two types of technology – geo-exchange and sewer heat recovery. What it really does, he explained, is provide heating and cooling to high-density residential and commercial spaces.

The real benefit for the city, Kita explains in the video, is that Richmond partnered with a private company who designed, built, and manages the system’s facilities for a 30-year period. Kita acknowledged this provides a win-win for both partners.

Leading the North American Climate Fight

District energy systems aren’t that well known in Canada, not compared to some Scandinavian countries. Even so, Kita said Richmond officials are excited for the future. It also seems other communities are watching. Many cities have sent officials to the city to get a look at Richmond’s plants and get a better understanding of what the municipality is doing.

As for the city, Kita said it is recouping the latest technology while always looking to the future.

“Our ultimate goal is to have all of our energy plants connected. When we do that, there is a potential for the city to have the largest city-owned utility in North America,” he said. “That’s a huge goal we are looking to achieve. We are always looking for the future – the innovation in the future – of what district energy could be.”  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Ken Coates’ article: Carbon taxes, small towns, and the need for a rural lens. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

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