DT News interview: Mats Striegler on the Green Heat: Low Carbon Energy Generation for Heating Existing Buildings IDEaS challenge

Video / August 5, 2021


(ET) The Innovation for Defence, Excellence and Security program recently issued a challenge calling for proposals to retrofit existing, older buildings across National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces to lessen the organization’s impact on the environment.

Mats Striegler, Senior Advisor for the Directorate of Portfolio Innovation, Infrastructure and Environment Group joins us today to tell us more about this important challenge and what it means for Defence, Canada, energy consumption, and reduction of the global carbon footprint.

Thanks for joining us today, Mats. To kick us off, can you maybe talk to us about what the key drivers were behind launching this challenge?

(MS) So the key drivers are fairly simple to explain. All you have to do is think about the news that’s been in the news cycle for the last couple of years, just increasing every year. You can think about what’s going on in BC right now and Northern Ontario. The floods in Germany, the fires in Australia, the Fort McMurry fire. All of this is a result of the climate warming and the climate changing as a crisis. And that’s as a result of our GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions.

So that’s the driver is that we have to reduce that carbon footprint and we’ve been mandated by the government to reduce that footprint and it’s going to be at a much more accelerated pace.

DND, as a federal department, we’re responsible for about… right now, a little less than fifty percent of the government’s operating emissions and of that fifty percent, ninety percent comes from our building portfolio. We have a massive building portfolio across Canada.

(ET) Understood. So the primary focus is to find an alternative heating mechanism that is going to reduce the carbon footprint for our facilities. And you mentioned the sheer number of facilities that is operated by DND/CAF across the country. Are there any other potentially positive benefits that we could hope to yield from this challenge in our fight against climate change?

(MS) Yes, one of the biggest benefits is of course costing. I mean, right now…the only potential way to meet that challenge right now is to transform our portfolio into net-zero. That’s literally billions of dollars. It would be massive. Aside from the housing stock, the operational stock, warehouses, the messes, the barracks, the hangars. That’s ten thousand buildings. And a lot of those buildings are massive buildings that would take sixty, seventy, eighty million to upgrade. So having to do that would be an enormous burden of cost on the department. We wouldn’t normally have to do that. Those buildings would still be there and operational for forty years.

So if we can find a way to transform heating those buildings with a low-carbon system without having to re-skin the building, do major upgrades and introduce new mechanical equipment inside the building, new roofs, those major insulation upgrades that are required, we’re going to have that huge cost burden removed from us in the future.

(ET) Thank you for being with us today and good luck with the challenge.

(MS) It was a pleasure. Thank you.

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