The Art Gallery of Ontario
In November 2008, the Art Gallery of Ontario completed a four-year construction project that added approximately 100,000 square feet of gallery space to its existing 486,000-square-foot floor plan. Not surprisingly, the renovation caused increases in both electricity use and costs.The AGO met energy management challenges head on with a plan to reduce energy costs by changing the way in which the gallery's heating and cooling systems worked.
Energy cost savings were achieved through a combination of consumption reduction and pricing strategies. The AGO saved over half a million dollars in electricity costs during the first year of implementation. The gallery's winter electricity consumption (kilowatt hours) and their demand levels (kilowatts) dropped by almost 40 per cent, resulting in a significant reduction on all charge types on their electricity bill.
The original design of the facility called for their three 900-tonne chillers to operate during winter months to control humidity, but they saw an opportunity to turn the chillers off by harvesting free cool air from outside. In doing this, they would have to stay within the defined and non-negotiable temperature and humidity levels necessary for the conservation of the gallery's art collection.
The automation system regulates the flow of the outside air through several dampers based on what they need internally to maintain gallery conditions. It was programmed to measure inside and outside temperature and dew points; if the outside air was within certain thresholds, the air-handling system could bring in the outside air and reduce chiller loads and even shut them down under certain conditions — resultin in a huge energy savings.
Organizational and Behavioural Changes
One of the AGO's other priorities has been to investigate the potential of LED and other efficient lighting technologies. It's a process that didn't happen overnight. In 2003, they created a lighting inventory which tracks the wattage and type of the thousands of lights within the gallery and the hours that they are on. The inventory shows if a lighting project will guarantee results before the retrofit begins. Lighting retrofits have saved over 38,000 kWh of electricity −helping the AGO qualify for an incentive payment through the gallery's local distribution company, Toronto Hydro.
The AGO has an energy management plan that contains objectives, approaches and timelines for future projects. In making the case for capital funding for energy management initiatives, they build credibility through results. Having credibility with their most important stakeholder, the gallery patrons, also matters. Energy management is not only about reducing consumption, but also ensuring that AGO patrons have a great experience.