Green Heat Initiative

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Green Heat Initiative

CanadaCranbrook, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Green Heat Initiative identifies and develops biomass heating projects, providing free independent information, technical expertise for energy projects.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural and remote communities are currently paying high prices for fuel to heat commercial, institutional, and municipal buildings as well as domestic hot water. In many cases the fuel comes from a distant location, results in few local benefits with large amounts of money leaving the community and large carbon footprint. Communities, especially those off the natural gas grid, are struggling to keep local jobs, use local resources and reduce their environmental impact. These communities tend to be small (less than 5000 people), and have capacity challenges.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The solution is to use a local woody biomass for the heating of commercial, institutional and municipal buildings. Biomass heating is very common done in Europe but not widely used in BC. Currently biomass is used on the residential sector (solid wood, pellets) but not in larger buildings. Woody biomass (wood chips, pellets, solid wood) is a readily available, cost effective fuel. When biomass is combusted in the advanced systems (such as those used in Europe) it contributes to local economic development and has positive environmental benefits using a local renewable resource.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Green Heat Initiative (GHI) works with local municipalities, institutions, First Nations and non-profit groups to help educate them on the use of biomass, and develop biomass projects. GHI is an unbiased source of information for groups that often are limited by both capacity and knowledge. Because biomass heating is relatively new to the Interior of BC, most proponents have limited knowledge and require a great deal of support. As a project proponent expresses interest GHI will 1) conduct community visits throughout the process, 2) educate proponents on all aspects of the project, 3) provide technical feasibility assessment that can be used either to proceed to capital procurement or next level of assessment, 4) conduct financial assessments, 5) identify biomass sources for the project, 6) assist in document development for financing, capital procurement, RETScreen, etc. In addition to community visits, GHI uses workshops, seminars, and site tours to help develop the biomass heating sector. GHI is a hands on organization that works on the ground to develop projects

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are a number of groups looking at bioenergy, community energy, etc. however none of them are focused specifically on the use of biomass for heat. Also no one is providing this type of direct project support, especially the technical and economic analysis

Founding Story

The GHI was started in mid-2009 by Community Futures North Cariboo. Many rural communities were experiencing economic downturn, the mountain pine beetle were epidemic was devastating our forests and we were paying high costs for energy. At the same time, over one million tonnes of BC pellets being exported to Europe. Europe had developed advanced technology to produce heat from all forms of woody biomass. Why could we not use the technology here to utilise local resources and contribute to economic development? A gap existed that people did not have the knowledge or capacity to develop heating systems.
About You
Community Futures East Kootenay
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Community Futures East Kootenay

Organization Country

, BC, Cranbrook

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Thompson Okanagan, Northern British Columbia, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Kootenay Rockies, Columbia Basin.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

The goal of GHI is to help people understand how woody biomass can be used to heat buildings beyond the residential sector. Specifically GHI will work with proponents to develop a minimum of 8 business cases for switching to biomass (in the interior of BC). GHI will also continue to educate those interested in biomass heating and develop a knowledge base they can access.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Since Oct 2009 GHI has completed the following:
1) Involved in five completed projects leading to 10 FTE jobs
2) Over 18 feasibility studies for project proponents.
3) Over 10 projects in various stages of development.
4) GHI Website that has approx. 2300 hits per month.
5) Research Project with UBC and Community Energy Association funded by Pacific Institute of Climate Solutions (PICS).
6) Over 50 project partners.
7) Monthly Newsletter with over 600 recipients

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Over the next 5 years GHI anticipates 10-15 completed biomass heating projects (including district energy). These projects are expected to create 20-30 FTE’s in local economies. In addition, each project can expect to have between 50-250 tonnes of CO2e reduction and help them meet their carbon reduction goals.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

This project is about building capacity, however proponents still need to engage even though it is at a reduced level. GHI has developed a good relationship with potential proponents and has developed criteria to ensure that only most viable projects are developed. The other barrier is about overcoming people’s perception of woody biomass as an energy source. GHI has developed an extensive knowledge of biomass heating and uses a variety of internet based tools, workshops, seminars and personal communications.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Complate 2 business case reports for projects

Task 2

Conduct in person meeting with 6 potential project proponents

Task 3

Monthly newsletters and increase website usage to over 2500 hits/month

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Complete 8 business case reports for projects

Task 2

Conduct in-person meeting with 12 potential project proponents

Task 3

Complete 2 workshop/seminars

Tell us about your partnerships

GHI has signed MOU’s with the BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN) and BC Community Energy Association (CEA). BCBN is the lead organization funded by the province of BC to develop the all sides of the bioenergy sector. The CEA works with municipalities to identify their energy emissions and work to reduce them. In addition GHI has worked with over 50 other organizations such as BC Hydro, Fortis, Forrex, and others to deliver a variety of work shop and seminars.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

GHI is targeting smaller communities and organizations across the interior of BC and primarily off the natural gas grid.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

GHI is a very open initiative where staff primarily work remotely based from an office based in Cranbrook.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

GHI operates in the renewable energy sphere as well as carbon mitigation. Therefore GHI has a great deal of information on both subjects and would be a resource for other initiatives. IN addition, GHI has developed a large network and knowledge base that others could utilise.