Niagara College research reinforces incentive for businesses to conserve energy

Pictured above: Kurt Fromman, Outreach and Dissemination officer with Niagara Research and recent grad of NC’s Environmental Management program, has come up with a new tool to help businesses lower their carbon footprint.

The limited availability of fossil fuels and an overloaded power grid means the province of Ontario needs to better manage its electricity consumption. While some tools already exist to assist individual homeowners with this task, Niagara College’s Kurt Frommann has been working on developing ways to make businesses across the province more aware of their consumption habits.

The results of studies by Frommann, an Outreach and Dissemination officer with Niagara Research, were highlighted in an article recently published in Transactions of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering.

“What I’ve been researching is a ways to hold businesses more accurately accountable for the carbon they emit from their operations,” Frommann explains. “Our resources are getting harder to manage. Ontario produces the most greenhouse gases from electricity generation during times of high demand, so what I have come up with is a metric of management, an accounting method, that provides more incentive to businesses to conserve and/or shift their operations electricity consumption to times of lower demand so they can lower their carbon footprint.”

Frommann’s metric involves near real-time hourly calculations of the carbon intensity of Ontario’s power grid – something previously unavailable to business and individual consumers alike – so that businesses can see what times of day their activity generates the most carbon emissions, and how it adversely affects their environmental performance.

His research was conducted under the supervision of faculty members Evan DiValentino and Katie Altoft, in a project funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), working with industry partner, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and e3 Solutions Inc.

Frommann hopes to continue his work with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) on ways to implement his calculation engine so businesses will be more accountable for their carbon usage. In addition to cost-savings, they have the opportunity to improve their environmental performance through conservation and shifting away from electricity usage during peak times.

Being published in an academic journal will assist with future research projects and help convince businesses that this is the way of the future for electricity usage and emission calculations in Ontario, Frommann notes.

“It feels great to know that the ideas have been peer reviewed by professors and people in the industry, so it gives me a lot more confidence moving forward, having multiple people review it and approve of the concept.”

Frommann is a graduate of the Environmental Management program.

Niagara Research is the home of applied research at Niagara College. Niagara Research works with business, industry and the community through applied research and innovation projects, by utilizing new or existing knowledge to solve practical real-world problems.

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