Hi! Welcome to our blog. The Northern Lights Solutions is a new organization which has been created in January 2015 as the official team of the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA)/ National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) University of Toronto Student Chapter. We have created this initiative mainly to provide information about the Northern Lights Solutions’ latest project, the 2015 Green Energy Challenge. As you continue to read, I will elaborate on the history of our group and touch upon what the Green Energy Challenge is really about.


This past summer was when our chapter was officially founded. In April 2014, the NECA Board of Directors approved our incorporation! During the summer, certain individuals I am personally close with helped step up to create an executive team. I took on the President position and from there our organization started to expand. From my Civil Engineering classes, Kate Kazlovich became the Vice-President and Stephanie Daou became the Treasurer. We began working to develop all the relevant governance documents and seeking incorporation with local university institutions (such as the Engineering Society). We became the first CECA student chapter as well as the first NECA student chapter outside of the United States! Our mission statement, as described in our constitution, became: To attract the “best and the brightest” to a career in electrical contracting, as well as provide students and contractors with an opportunity to impress each other. Through the summer of 2014, we elaborated a plan incorporating several initiatives to achieve this goal, such as participating as clients in design courses at the university, organizing and promoting networking events and seminars and structuring a team to participate in the 2015 Green Energy Challenge, a (now) international competition organized by ELECTRI  international. In order to achieve these goals, we incorporated a fourth position to our team, the Project Manager (Matheos Tsiaras). Soon after, the last member of our executive came on board, our Communications Coordinator (Tiffany Ongtenco) to assist us in managing the club’s communications portfolio.

The Green Energy Challenge Formation of the Team

Since September 2014, Matheos has taken the lead in developing all the necessary preparations to participate in the 2015 Green Energy Challenge. He established a set of goals for the team to be achieved between September 2014 and January 2015, when the competitions Request for Proposals (RFP) would be released. The efforts during this period consisting of reviewing proposals of past competitions to familiarize ourselves with the format of the competition, and outreach to the students to encourage them to join Green Energy Challenge team . We managed to construct a team of 27 members, divided across 5 different sub-teams: Lighting and Systems, Energy Audit, Renewable Energies, Finance and Estimation, and Outreach. Each team was given clear instructions of what their role was so that their members could begin familiarizing themselves with the competition. After the winter break, and with the full RFP released, the team assembled and formed the official name for our team, Northern Lights Solutions. Following this general assembly, our Project Manager and President worked hard to identify potential clients for the competition, and eventually came across Good Shepherd Ministries (thanks to our industry contacts). After consultation with the team, Good Shepherd Ministries became our client, and the project began to take more shape.

About the Competition

The topic for the 2015 competition consists of the development of a back-up power system and resiliency plan for an existing facility with demonstrated critical power needs. The full scale of the project consists of: conducting an energy audit to assess the current conditions of the site, developing the back-up power system and resiliency plan and designing a lighting retrofit. Moreover, teams are expected to promote energy awareness through the project by developing an outreach strategy and lastly, they are required to cost the project and propose an implementation schedule.

About our Client

Good Shepherd Ministries is a charity organization that helps people struggling with homelessness and poverty in the City of Toronto. They describe themselves as being a place to get a hot meal, clean clothes, and a safe, clean bed for the night. It’s a place to go when you need someone to listen, someone to help. Every day, they serve thousands of meals and provide overnight accommodations for 91 individuals. Considering how important it is that their facilities remain operational through the toughest weather conditions, our team decided that a back-up power system was a very much needed enhancement of their building. Moreover, most of the lighting is provided by fluorescent bulbs, highlighting a need for a lighting retrofit to reduce their operating costs. You can find out more information about Good Shepherd Ministries on their website www.goodshepherd.ca.

Project Status

Our team has conducted the on-site visit component of the energy audit and is in the process of analyzing the data, and developing the first deliverable for the competition which consists of a pre-proposal introducing the client, the project and highlighting the results from the audit. It is busy times for Northern Lights Solutions, while we ramp up the efforts of the audit, our other teams are working hard to do the preliminary work required to develop the back-up power system design as well as the lighting retrofit.

 Written by: Ernesto DLP


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