Two Islanders are among 12 people across the country who were named national energy champions by Efficiency Canada.
Charlottetown energy coordinator Hammad Ahmed was recognized for his work on the city's community energy plan, adopted three years ago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He has also recently been appointed to Engineers P.E.I.'s environment committee
"It is an honour to be selected on a federal level representing energy efficiency," said Ahmed.
"Efficiency champions are really limited in Canada and me being one of two on the island is a great honour."
Passion for sustainability
Ahmed saw the value in sustainability from an early age growing up in the Saudi Arabian desert where electricity and water scarcity was his norm.
Ahmed said his mom taught him to turn the lights off when leaving a room and to be mindful of the amount of water he uses in the washroom as part of simple day-to-day conservation tricks.
This led him to pursue the sustainable design engineering program at UPEI.
"When I looked up P.E.I. on Google Maps, it was this tiny, beautiful green Island … I took a leap of faith and I've been here ever since," Ahmed said.
Helping the Island reach its goals
Ahmed is helping retrofit Charlottetown's municipal-owned buildings to become more energy efficient.
The project, which is already a year in and includes buildings like the Eastlink Centre and the Bell Aliant Centre, hopes to finish in the next six months if supply chain issues don't delay its progress.
He said the city's energy savings from the building retrofits is estimated to amount to 161 tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions per year, or 54 cars taken off the road each year, including a 16 per cent reduction in electric costs, as well as 13 per cent reduction in oil.
The financial investment in upgrading all the buildings at once, Ahmed said, would "save [the city] a lot more money" in the long run.
The city facilities have a payback period of 10.7 years but he said the measures put in place would allow the city to pay themselves with the savings they've incurred in that time, and any amount beyond would continue the city's assets.
Ahmed hopes to stay on the Island to continue his work.
"I would love to see a lot more windmills and solar farms," he said. "I would love to help the city and province reach its net zero goal.
"I would love to stay on the Island and help [it] become more energy efficient and renewable."
Efficiency Canada, a grant-based research organization based out of Carleton University, primarily undertakes its own projects and research, as well as relying on the skills, experience, networks and talent of the energy efficiency sector to complete its work.
Matt Eye, who owns M.B. Eye Electrical in Charlottetown, is the other Islander listed as a national energy champion.