Energy Management Training For Arena Operators Pays Dividends
Canlan Ice Sports owns and operates 22 multi-purpose recreation and entertainment facilities across North America. For their annual operations managers conference in January 2010, Darren Parachoniak, Director of Energy Management at the time, worked with Natural Resource Canada (NRCan) and Prism Engineering to provide a one day "Spot the Energy Savings" workshop to conference participants. Initially, senior management at Canlan questioned whether the workshop was worth the expense. Having recently attended a workshop facilitated by Prism and having become convinced of the value of the training, he assured management that the cost savings resulting from the workshop would exceed workshop costs.
Far from being a theoretical exercise, the workshop was geared towards achieving real energy savings at Canlan's arenas. Darren challenged each Operations Manager to apply the concepts from the workshop at their own facilities and to carry out an energy efficiency project that resulted in enough savings to cover their portion of the workshop costs. He called them "Micro Energy Projects" and offered several prizes to incentivize managers to produce the highest savings at the lowest cost.
Results from the first year of the program:
- Workshop payback 5 months
- $13,000 in annual energy savings
- $74,000 in avoided energy costs over the next 5 years
- Will pay for itself 15 times over in next 5 years
The NRCan workshop, designed and facilitated by Prism, was geared towards arming the participants with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify and carry-out the Micro Energy Projects. The workshop facilitators conducted an on-site walkthrough of one of Canlan's arenas. They reviewed recent energy audit reports, conducted an analysis of the company's energy data, and reviewed Canlan's energy conservation policies and processes. They used the observations from the visit, as well as data collected from other research, to develop a presentation tailored to arena operators, full of useful examples and ideas. The workshop included hands on demonstrations of tools and technologies, as well as facilitated exercises such as a "cost of wasting water spreadsheet," which were developed specifically for the group. Workshop participants were also provided with a comprehensive checklist of energy saving opportunities specific to Canlan's facilities.
The results were remarkable. In the first year of the program, six facilities completed Micro Energy projects and identified over $13,000 in annual energy savings, more than twice the total cost of the workshop. These savings represent nearly $74,000 in avoided energy costs over the next 5 years, essentially paying for the workshop 15 times over. Senior management's initial hesitancy quickly faded once they saw the effect of the training and awareness building on their bottom line. By the end of the program's first year, Parachoniak stated that Prism and NRCan's training had provided the foundation for a "lasting energy management legacy" at their organization.
The program has managed to turn many of the arena managers at Canlan into full blown "energy champions" at their facilities. At one facility, other staff members, including food and beverage staff, have become involved in the energy projects and are even carrying out their own energy saving initiatives.
"Everyone is really passionate about this and they are excited about the difference they are making," said Parachoniak who, due to the managers' newfound passion for energy management, now receives many emails and calls from Operations Managers outside of their regularly scheduled meetings. "I don't mind at all," says Parachoniak. "It shows that the initiative is really working."
At the annual Operations Managers conference, over a year after the training facilitated by Prism, the managers reported back to their peers on the energy saving projects they'd completed in the previous year. This provided an opportunity for managers to share successes and propose ideas for future energy saving projects. By incorporating energy management success stories and information sharing into the annual conference agenda, the Operations Managers began to see energy management as part of 'regular business practice,' thereby fostering an energy savings culture in their organization that will serve them well for many years to come.