There’s more to environmental sustainability than counting light bulbs

By David F. Rooney

How do you measure your work? Revelstoke’s Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Penny Page-Brittin can measure it in any number of ways — from running programs and creating brochures to counting light bulbs.

Counting light bulbs? Really?


“The total number of light bulbs (each light in the MP rooms has 4 lamps or tubes or light bulbs) for the Community/Aquatic Centre,

Revelstoke Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Penny Page Brittin

including the Seniors’ Centre and the Library is: 1,438,” she told The Current.  “That’s a lot of light bulbs!

The total number of bulbs City Hall, the Public Works Department, the RCMP, the Communnity/Aquatic Centre, Fire Hall, Arena, Museum, Courthouse and the Water Treatment Plant is a whopping 4,305.

Lest you think this is a bureaucratic waste of time, Page-Brittin conducted the count as part of an energy audit of municipal buildings.

Four thousand three hundred and five is a lot of light bulbs and counting them isn’t a trivial exercise. Consider this: the total electricity consumption for the lights and… operations in the buildings listed  above (minus the water treatment plant and its 112 bulbs) was 3,074,652 kW and the total cost to the City in 2010 was $201,497.

“That’s a good reason to turn the lights out and turn things off when they’re not in use,” Page-Brittin said.

Getting a handle on the municipal government’s energy consumption is an important part of the job she was hired to do last year.

And Page-Brittin was busy in 2011 and will be just as focused in 2012 ensuring that the City meets all of its environmental commitments.

“We are actually doing quite well in that we have created good plans that are being implemented,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

There were a number of major highlights in 2011 that are yielding real results. They include:

  1. The new Cosmetic Pesticide Bylaw;
  2. Meeting the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Milestone 1-3 for corporate emissions, which includes a reduction target of 20% below 2007 emission levels. The City’s progress on this front is such that Revelstoke is being recognized for this during an award ceremony in Ottawa at the beginning of February;
  3. Finalization of the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) and the District Energy and Emissions Plan (DEEP). Their approval by Council is pending;
  4. Action to reduce municipal energy consumption. This includes a reduction in the use of propane at the Department of Public Works, energy audits (including all those light bulbs) of City buildings and continued acquisition of a full year of data to compare temperature differences;
  5. A Fuel Management Course for the City’s vehicle fleet;
  6. A major CBT workshop on Adapoting to Climate Change; and
  7. A public information session last autumn on energy efficiency in building construction;

“What do I see in 2012?” she asked. “We have a number of things lined up.

“Since this will be the first full growing season in which this will be implemented we’ll continue to raise public awareness regarding the Cosmetic Pesticide Bylaw. Part of that will be through a new brochure.

“Curbside Recycling began this month and we’ve just completed the first week of that. We need a better Anti-Idling education campaign. We can do more to raise awareness particularly among new residents. We have almost completed a new brochure for that.

“We’re going to review the City vehicle fleet and take a serious look at what vehicles we have and what size the fleet really should be.”

Page-Brittin also noted that she’ll look at when and why City crews  violate the Anti-Idling Bylaw. “We need to set a good example,” she said.

There will also be a SMART Driver Course for City staff , continued energy audits of municipal buildings and the development of a Green Building Policy.

2012 is also the year when the City must become carbon-neutral. A report on emissions will be released at the end of March 2013 and offsets will be purchased from the Pacific Carbon Trust on what hasn’t been reduced by that time.

As well, a Watershed Management Plan will be produced to ensure that Revelstoke will have a “resilient water supply for the future,” she said.

The Planning Department will hold another Public Information Session on Energy Efficiency for Buildings and Construction in April, the City’s CEEP will be submitted for Milestones 1-3 recognition through the FCM’s national Partners for Climate Protection program.

And, finally, there will be a Public Information Session this spring on a UBC/Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions interactive study of community energy consumption and emissions.

Click here to learn more about the City of Revelstoke’s environmental sustainability plans.