CIET trainer, Ali Syed shares a dilemma he often faces, and his recommendation for energy management professionals.

As an energy professional, I am always faced with a dilemma before recommending any energy efficiency measure. And the predicament is that for a given measure, should I recommend energy savings, or should I contextualize emissions savings as well?


Based on the power generation source composition, electrical grid infrastructure can have considerable variations in their emission intensities. Even within our great nation, in 2020, we have emission factors ranging from 0.04 tones/MWh in Ontario to 0.30 tonnes/MWh in New Brunswick to 0.66 tonnes/MWh in Alberta (Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Strategic Policy Branch, Economic Analysis Directorate, Analysis and Modelling Division).


Such variations in electricity grid emission factors mandate special attention when investigating an energy management solution for a facility in a given location. For example, in Alberta, for a given amount of electrical energy saved, the GHG emission reduction will be magnified compared to Newfoundland or Ontario. It is not the amount of saved energy that varies rather the GHG emissions resulting from variation in the local grid power source (e.g. high emitting coal or hydro or renewable energy).


It might be financially prudent for certain provinces to focus on natural gas savings over electricity savings. However, financial viability alone is a one dimensional and incomplete decision metric. It is crucial to consider both the economic viability and electrical grid emissions intensities when weighting any energy management strategy.


Any forward-thinking energy professional should consider the entire picture of energy management and not focus only on the quickest payback but also quantify synergies that tie to the GHG emissions.


To help your clients make the right decision, use more involved decision tools like life cycle GHG and costing analysis. It is straightforward to justify the energy and GHG management decisions with a multi-dimensional approach over a monotonic cost only yardstick. Such holistic energy conservation measures will result in long term sustainability and our fight against climate change.


For all these reasons, I strongly urge my colleagues to prioritize GHG emissions when designing their energy management strategies.


-Ali Syed



Ali Syed 2

About Ali Syed

Ali is a trainer in CIET's Certified Energy Manager course. He has more than 19 years of diverse experience in Energy Conservation, Renewable Energy Systems, Energy Performance Contracting, Energy Management and Sustainability. Ali is working as a Technical Lead overseeing the entire LEED, BOMA, Green Globes, Built Green Facilitation & Energy Modeling, HVAC System sizing, Energy Auditing, Life-Cycle Costing Assessment, Measurement & Verification and some Commissioning work for the Alberta Government. Ali is also a CaGBC Experienced Energy Modeller, LEED AP, Green Globes Professional (GGP), Certified Energy Manager (CEM) and Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP).  


Throughout his career, Ali has conducted numerous Energy Audits ranging from commercial, healthcare, educational, residential and heavy industrial clients across North America and Asia. He actively speaks at international energy conferences and symposia and teaches numerous courses in energy conservation across North America. Finally, Ali has published more than 25 peer-reviewed articles on energy conservation globally. He demonstrates in-depth knowledge and understanding of project management tools & methodologies, and instruments and processes related to project preparation & implementation, resource management, and stakeholder communications.



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