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Sustainability Spotlight – Boke Consulting

May 8, 2023

Written by Casey Clair, Energy & Climate Advocate

6-minute read

Community-based sustainability is a key strategy in developing flourishing eco-conscious businesses. At The Chamber, it is important for us to promote sustainable businesses and their green initiatives. In our Sustainability Spotlights, we will shift our focus towards sustainable practices and the people that adopt and amplify them.

Summer’s right around the corner. If you have big project ideas related to energy, waste & recycling, food, shelter, or transportation, contact Boke Consulting while the weather’s fair! Boke Consulting helps manage the projects of their clients, in particular, First Nations communities.

Bruce Duggan, President of Boke Consulting, took the time to explain three major energy-reducing initiatives that they’ve been a part of in Northern Manitoba. In partnership with Aki Energy, Bruce has helped manage the implementation of geothermal heat pumps in Lac Brochet, a solar panel array, and a biomass heating system that intakes wood chips from burnt areas in Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation. Additionally, they helped the Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation clean up nearby diesel spills to prevent further soil contamination. The key goals of this ERAAES (Environmental Remediation And Alternative Energy Systems) project were to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to the high dependency on diesel in the north and to help northern communities become energy independent.

Pulling coils out into the lake in preparation for sinking them to the lake bottom

Geothermal Heat Pump

Part of the plan involved installing a lake-based geothermal heat pump, as the First Nations reserve is located on the north shore of Lac Brochet. The lake is close enough and deep enough for this system to work. 

“You have all of these coils, just like if you were putting them in the ground, and then you attach a chain link fence. It seems an odd thing to do, but then you haul it out into the middle of the lake and sink it, and that’s why you need the chain link fences to push it all down and then put a bunch of rocks on it. And then you have a geothermal system.”

Lake-based heat pumps are not the most common type of heat pump, but they do heat and cool buildings through the stable temperatures provided by large bodies of water.

Building a solar array in a snow storm

Solar Array

The next step in their plan was to install a solar grid in Northlands Dënesųłiné First Nation. This solar array was designed to power the sewer and wastewater systems in the community. Although it’s typically recommended to set up solar photovoltaic systems in warm, clear weather, the Northlands Dënesųłiné doesn’t always have that luxury. “This was in October, and the folks from the South said, ‘Oh, let’s come back when winter is over in spring and finish it off.’ And they said, ‘It’s not spring here till May or June, so let’s just work.'” They were able to set up around a thousand solar panels in total, despite the adverse conditions.

Lunch at the harvesting site

Biomass System

Another one of the components necessary to help this community’s energy independence was a biomass system. Considering the feasibility of using wood from burnt areas in Northern Manitoba, they can sustainably harvest burnt trees to turn them into wood chips for a biomass heating system. 

The communities in Northern Manitoba are quite remote, and four are diesel-dependent. More of these biomass systems could be a great source of energy that’s cleaner than diesel and sustainable for the forests and people who harvest them.

On top of providing equipment and experts for the construction of these projects, Boke Consulting and Aki Energy have provided training on the management of these systems and have created lasting jobs. Bruce has seen firsthand how strongly many communities feel about becoming self-sufficient and how they strive to end their diesel dependency, “The long-term viability of diesel up north is pretty bad, even if you didn’t mind all the pollution and contamination. So, being able to harvest locally and manage it locally is really important to people.”

So don’t forget about Boke Consulting when you have energy-saving ideas for your business and community. Whether it’s finding a renewable resource or a more sustainable energy source, Boke Consulting can help manage your project.

Want to be featured in our next Sustainability Spotlight? Reach out to The Chamber’s Energy & Climate Advocate, Casey Clair and share your sustainable stories with us!

*Images provided by Boke Consulting*

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