Reducing greenhouse gases in City Hall’s sights

By David F. Rooney

The City took the first steps towards reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) and becoming carbon-neutral with Council’s decision to follow the recommendations contained in a long-awaited Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory and Reduction Strategy.

Councillors voted unanimously to:

  1. undertake the report’s 15 recommendations and reduce the cost of becoming carbon-neutral by 2012;
  2. establish an Energy and Emissions Reduction Program with $20,000 in annual funding beginning in 2012;
  3. adopt a gas emission eduction target of 20 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020; and
  4. submit the strategy to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for recognition that it has completed Milestones 1-3 of the FCM’s Partners for Climate Protection Program for Corporate Operations. There are five milestones: 1) create a GHG inventory and forecast; 2) set an emission reduction target; 3) develop a local action plan that outlines hoe emissions and energy use will be reduced; 4) action plan implementation; and 5) monitoring progress and report results.
Figure 1 (top): Greenhouse Gas emmissions per sector, City of Revelstoke Corporate operations inventory. 2007. Figure 2: Greenhouse gas emmissions, energy and energy sending by energy source, City of Revelstoke corporate operations 2007.

This 63-page report to Council from Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Penny Page-Brittin gathered data related to municipal buildings, the City’s fleet of vehicles, energy use for streetlights and traffic signals, solid waste and something simply called “other.” In total the City’s GHG emissions for the baseline year of 2007 — 1,457 tonnes/year of GHG.

Page-Brittin noted that while “forecasting is challenging” she was able to predict emissions for 2017 — 248 tonnes of GHG.

“Forecasting is done using a ‘business as usual’ approach, predicting population growth and the resulting impact on municipal services,” she wrote in her report.

“Forecasting is difficult, particularly in Revelstoke, where the impact on population growth over the next ten years is unclear since the opening of Revelstoke Mountain Resort in 2007. While forecasting is challenging, it aids in setting reduction targets, which are absolute reductions from the baseline year of 2007.

“The forecasted emissions for 2017 is an estimated increase of approximately 248 tonnes CO2e. This is a ‘business -as- usual’ approach based on operations in 2007 and does not take into account reduction actions that have occurred since 2007, or changes in technology that may occur.”

The report’s 15 recommendations are listed below. Please click here if you’d like to read the entire report.

  1. Conduct comprehensive energy audits and opportunity assessments of all municipal buildings Using a qualified Energy Advisor conduct energy audits to assess opportunities to increase energyefficiencies, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Areas that should be considered include HVAC energy cost savings strategies, lighting recommendations and building envelope improvements.
  2. Establish a Green Building Policy Establish a Green Building policy which commits the City to achieve a given standard that reducesenergy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions when building new buildings or retrofitting existing buildings.
  3. Implement an Energy Efficient Equipment Policy An Energy Efficient Equipment Policy would commit the City to purchase equipment such as appliances, office equipment and consumer electronics that are energy efficient.
  4. Implement a Corporate Idle Reduction Policy including driver education and awareness Implement a Corporate Idle Reduction Policy which is directed toward all City staff including contracted out snow removal. Diver education and awareness of idling reduction practices can lead to reduced fuel consumption and will show leadership to the community as a whole.
  5. Ensure vehicle data collection and preventative maintenance scheduling are in place Ensuring vehicle date is collected including tracking of kilometers travelled, fuel consumed and downtime, allows for evaluation of fuel efficiency and life cycle costing of vehicles in the fleet.
  6. Establish a Fuel Efficient Vehicle Purchasing Policy When purchasing vehicles use “right sizing” and life cycle costing. Determine what the vehicle is being used for and whether a more fuel- efficient vehicle can be purchased.
  7. Consider alternative fuels and technologies Evaluate options, cost and feasibility to use a non-food grade biodiesel in the city vehicle fleet.
  8. Continue to improve energy efficiency in streetlights and traffic signals Evaluate the capital cost, cost savings and payback period for replacing lights in signs and ornamental lighting with more energy efficient bulbs. City of Revelstoke Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory and Reduction Strategy 8
  9. Optimize operation of water and waste water infrastructure Continue to improve energy efficiency in water and wastewater infrastructure.
  10. Encourage water conservation Expand existing water conservation measures.
  11. Reduce solid waste through diversion Increase the number of recycling containers at municipal facilities. Place containers directly beside waste garbage containers to increase the ease of recycling.
  12. Encourage energy and emissions reduction in contracted out services Include contractors in energy and emissions initiatives including anti-idling awareness programs, and alternative fuels. Require all new contracts to provide fuel consumption data.
  13. Ensure ownership of the plan Ensure there are adequate staff resources to implement and monitor the plan and that energy and emission reductions are recorded and communicated to the community.
  14. Engage municipal staff Engaging staff and achieving “buy-in” are important for successfully implementing actions where a behavioural change is required. Through workshops ensure an understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and impact on global warming and climate change. Through further municipal engagement, potential obstacles, alternatives or missed opportunities in general operations may be identified.
  15. Establish an Energy and Emissions Reduction Program Establish an Energy and Emissions Reduction Program to finance some of the initiatives and actions that have been identified in this report. Funding of $20,000 annually, beginning in 2012, would allow for reduction projects that will further reduce emissions and save on the cost of paying carbon offsets in 2012.