Fredericton / News / City stories

Efficiency in action: Kimble fire station on track to produce 100% of the amount of electricity it uses

As part of our recently announced Energy and Emissions Plans, one of the core priorities of the City of Fredericton will be to find energy efficiencies wherever possible. In fact, the city has been making strides towards energy efficiency for years but there has been a renewed push in recent years.

A great example is the Kimble Drive fire station. With the building requiring upgrades and a new roof cap, the City took the opportunity to install a photovoltaic solar panel system at the same time to make it a net producer of renewable energy. The station serves as an excellent example for how both the City and private developers can contribute to a more efficient and sustainable future.

The first step: making the building energy efficient

Before installing solar panels to generate electricity, it’s important to first undertake efforts to make a building energy efficient, as City Energy Analyst Bruce Good explains.

“First you want to make sure your building is insulated properly, making sure air sealing is done and you’re not getting any drafts,” says Good. “It’s cheaper to maximize efficiency and install more efficient products than it is to install more solar than you need to compensate for inefficiency.”

The Kimble Drive fire station installed a motion sensoractivated LED lighting system in 2019. Simply by ensuring that lights only turned on in places where necessary, the building’s power consumption lowered by 30%. The station has also benefitted from the installation of high efficiency heat pumps and an Energy Recovery Ventilation unit which captures heat from exhaust air as it leaves the building, transferring it to the fresh air supply coming into the building.

Becoming a net producer of energy

With other building upgrades complete and the new roof completed, the City installed a solar panel system in October 2020, which is designed to generate 100% of the amount of electricity utilized by the facility.

“Before you want to install a system, you apply to NB Power and say ‘this is what we want to do with our building, this is how much solar we want to put on the roof,’” says Good. “Then you enter into a Net-metering agreement with NB Power that they will take your excess energy when you’re not using it and give you a credit for that and give that back to you whenever you need it later in the year, like at night, or in the winter. It’s like a store credit.”

Taking into account the average energy use of the building (60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year) and the amount of sunlight Fredericton typically sees in a year (between 1100 and 1200 hours), to attain 100% electricity production equivalency from solar, 50 kilowatts’ worth of solar panels were installed.

Good anticipates that from May until October the building will be producing more energy by solar than it will use. On October 1, 2021, the anniversary date of the installation, we will know if we have reached our goal of ‘Net Zero Electricity’ at the station.

A blueprint for the future

The City has installed solar panels on three municipal buildings so far – including the Fredericton Public Library and the Killarney Lake Rotary Centennial Lodge – with the Kimble Drive fire station being the most ambitious yet. But going forward, these renewable / energy systems should factor into our new developments in the first place, rather than being installed after the fact.

One of the proposed strategies in our Corporate and Community Energy and Emissions Plans is to develop new standards and regulations going forward. Those standards could include requirements that buildings be built as efficiently as possible with a high priority on renewable energy systems. Roofs on newly-designed buildings could also be mandated to be southwardfacing, so that a solar panel installation would be in the best position for exposure to the sun. These sorts of efforts will help ensure that Fredericton only becomes more efficient and sustainable going forward.