FortisBC’s climate action partners: meet Kesh Bandara
April 5, 2023
FortisBC’s Climate Action Partners Program works with local governments and organizations throughout BC to help achieve our shared climate action goals. It funds climate action projects, or a dedicated employee, to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency and foster more affordable energy solutions in their community.
Here's how Keshawa (Kesh) Bandara, energy manager with the Township of Langley, is taking climate action for his community.
Why did you get involved with the Climate Action Partners Program?
I’ve worked in energy my whole career, and I really have a passion for it.
I’m originally from Sri Lanka. I did my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and was fortunate to get some terrific experience working in green building design and construction. I worked on projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. It was this international experience where I started to understand how a holistic and collaborative approach could help utilize energy more efficiently, even through all the nuances that different cities and countries must navigate.
I later moved to Arizona for my graduate studies, which was quite the cultural change to say the least! I got my Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in Thermodynamics. Just as impactful for me, I worked part-time with the Industrial Assessment Centre while getting my degree.
The Industrial Assessment Centre is a program funded by the US Energy Department. It’s a collection of over 30 universities in the United States, helping commercial energy facilities with demand-side management efforts. I was getting involved with education, utility and government entities and realized how much impact utilities and government have in energy and resource management. Climate action is a very challenging task. Partnerships are essential and not only do government and utilities play an integral role, but they also absolutely have to work together.
I came to BC in early 2020 to be with my family. The pandemic hit soon after, so I guess I ended up spending a LOT of time with them [haha]. In March 2021 I landed this fantastic role with the Township of Langley. The Township is a pioneer in BC climate action, and it was an opportunity to merge my passion with a government that was taking climate action very seriously.
Can you share more about your work as an energy manager?
My role is strategically positioned in the Township's Facilities and Sustainability department. Facilities focuses on corporate facilities, while Sustainability is responsible for all sectors and program areas involving climate action. I’m part of both community and corporate energy and emissions reduction activities.
We’ve accomplished a lot in the two years I’ve been here. In terms of specific tasks, we assessed the role of bioenergy in the Township, including how to utilize waste to turn it into something more useful. We analyzed feedstock to determine what kind of waste we generate and how to make the most of it. Where there is waste, we’re looking for solutions to repurpose it as usable energy. It is important to both reduce the waste we can through efficiencies and repurpose what we can through innovative technologies. We are continuing to explore ways to produce 15 per cent of the Township’s energy by local renewable sources by 2030.
Where there is waste, we’re looking for solutions to repurpose it as usable energy. It is important to both reduce the waste we can through efficiencies, and repurpose what we can through innovative technologies.
Kesh Bandara, energy manager, Township of Langley
We’ve also implemented various energy efficiency initiatives in the corporate facilities. One recent project is using cutting-edge technologies with Automatic Fault Detection and Diagnostics to check our mechanical systems in corporate buildings in real-time to ensure we’re delivering our services as efficiently as possible. Be it natural gas, electricity, water etc. This was a big project to implement and one I’m really proud of.
What are the benefits of this work to the Township of Langley?
To Township of Langley residents, property owners and businesses, your municipal government continues to reduce emissions in our community.
I mentioned previously that the Township of Langley is a pioneer in climate action. Successful climate action requires that we work together, evolve and be ambitious and pragmatic. At the Township, we currently have more than 140 action items in our climate action strategy, all carefully developed and assigned throughout the organization with specific indicators that we can work towards while continuing to develop staff’s skills and capabilities. It’s important to remember that education doesn’t just come from school, it comes from working with other experts in the industry.
The climate action partners program has been instrumental in providing that network of fellow experts. I can call any of the other partners to ask questions and learn from their experience any time I need.
Kesh Bandara, energy manager, Township of Langley
The Climate Action Partners Program has been instrumental in providing that network of fellow experts. I can call any of the other partners to ask questions and learn from their experience any time I need. I constantly have various types of support from FortisBC, including access to training.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve spent seven years in energy efficiency and the sustainable built environment. Humankind is at a crucial moment and what we do today will shape the habitability of the planet for future generations. We need to park our egos at the door, do away with personal agendas and work together, realistically and pragmatically. If we do that, I’m highly optimistic in our capability.
Connect with us to learn more about being a climate action partner
Our climate action partners are part of a community of like-minded organizations that are working to advance a lower carbon future, through the roles that communities and utilities play as identified in the Province’s CleanBC Roadmap. We encourage any local governments and organizations that share these values to connect with our climate action partners team to discuss how we can tackle climate action together.