Volume 24, Issue Number 4, Summer 2019
Environmental/Utilities Issues

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Innovative Energy Savings in Condos

A project organized by Crossbridge Condominium Services was recently recognized as one of the Most Innovative Projects of 2018 by Toronto Hydro

By Luis Hernandez | Other articles by Luis Hernandez

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rob Detta Colli, Manager of Energy & Sustainability with Crossbridge, to discuss the award and how the project came to be.

But first, a little background on Rob. A multi-faceted individual and veteran in the industry, Rob is an engineer with an MBA and a number of designations in the energy space including a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) designation and a Certification as a Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP). A down-to-earth guy, Rob’s goal is to identify energy conservation and sustainability opportunities for condominiums and rental buildings. He joined Crossbridge in 2012 as a collaboration between Crossbridge and the Ontario Power Authority and has been helping condominiums manage their energy ever since.

Now let’s get to the technical stuff! The award-winning project(s) involved the installation of a simple, local control that creates “intermittent pumping” for the heating systems and domestic hot water boilers. The purpose of the intermittent pumping is to stop the systems from running when they’re not needed in order to reduce heat loss from the boilers (resulting in gas savings) and reduce run-time on the boiler pumps (resulting in electrical savings).

In discussing the intermittent pumping projects with Rob, he noted that, at first, the team had rough ideas of the potential savings to condominiums but, once implemented, they were overwhelmingly happy to discover the extent to which condominiums could save money. Once they realized the tremendous impact on condominiums, Rob and his team sought to distribute the project to approximately another 10 condominiums in the GTA. This part is where Rob says that his non-technical expertise comes into play!

Rob noted that, unfortunately, condominiums are not known for being a particularly innovative space but then, optimistically, pointed out that there’s a lot of room for growth. In this regard, his business background (and wonderful personality) helps condominium boards in understanding their energy options and how to look at projects with a long-term view. There was a great passion from Rob when he discussed how simple payback projects may seem enticing at first but, ultimately, it serves boards and communities much better to look at the long-term effect of proposed projects. Of course, not all details can be perfectly quantified to start but once a project proves overwhelmingly successful then condominiums can begin implementing great savings.

Prior to ending our meeting, I asked Rob to give me a key take-away from the project and his answer was quite direct: “Condominiums need to create demand for innovation. There are tons of options for boards of directors to explore and they need to realize that every building is different. There is no such thing as a cookiecutter building but there are many bestpractices and methods that can be adapted to improve energy conservation and sustainability in condominiums.”

On behalf of the CCI-T and condominiums in Ontario, we just wanted to extend a sincere congratulations to Rob and the Crossbridge team for their well-deserved award!

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Summer 2019
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