The City of Revelstoke has adopted a new strategy designed to reduce city greenhouse gas emissions.
City council adopted the Corporate Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory and Reduction Strategy at their May 10 regular meeting.
The strategy focuses on reducing emissions from city operations by 20 per cent from 2007 levels by 2020. The strategy looks at city operations. It is separate from a plan currently in development to reduce community-wide emissions known as the Community Energy and Emissions Plan, which targets 6 per cent reductions for the community as a whole.
Currently, city operations emit 1,457 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, based on 2007 levels.
City environment coordinator Penny Page-Brittin drafted the plan along with city engineering director Brian Mallett.
In an interview, Page-Brittin explains “carbon neutral” essentially means not emitting any greenhouse gasses, or offsetting them with something else, like buying carbon credits, because “you’re going to make emissions no matter what.”
The strategy will receive $20,000 in funding annually, starting in 2012. The city hopes this funding will be offset by returns falling into two categories.
The first is a reduction in the cost of carbon credits the city will start paying in 2012. According to the 63-page report, it is expected the city will have to pay $29,450 to purchase offsetting carbon credits, starting that year.
Revelstoke is a signatory to the provincial Climate Action Charter, which commits the city to being carbon neutral in their operations by 2012. It also requires the city to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions and work towards creating compact, efficient communities.
The second cost reduction is expected in fuel savings for buildings and vehicles.
In a presentation to council on May 10, Page-Brittin explained that being a signatory to the voluntary Climate Action Charter was increasingly becoming a key “way to leverage other money through funding.” Many government grants now stipulate the recipient community must have a greenhouse gas reduction plan.
The report is centred around 15 key recommendations.
The first steps focus on further study of the status quo. Step one is comprehensive energy audits for all municipal buildings — and step two is to establish a “green building policy.”
The lion’s share of current emissions are from buildings, with vehicle emissions a near second.
46 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings. The vehicle fleet accounts for 42 per cent. The water and sewer system account for 10 per cent.
Several recommendations target vehicle emissions, including an idling-reduction policy, a data collection plan, an alternative fuels policy, a preventative maintenance plan and a fuel efficient vehicle purchasing plan. Part of the latter initiative will promote “right sizing” vehicles to their task.
Other recommended actions focus on other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, such as the water system and streetlights.
One recommendation proposes buying more efficient street lights and traffic signals, and also working towards a “dark skies” policy to preserve the night sky aesthetic.
Another recommendation proposes efficiencies in the waste water system, including technical modifications and repairs.
Encouraging water conservation is another recommendation — and is one aspect of the plan that spills over from changes in city operations to something that will affect residents generally. The water conservation recommendation includes awareness and education components, low-flow fixture building policies and incentives and more monitoring and study. It also recommends the political hot potato of water metering: “Installing residential water meters and a fee for water usage,” reads the recommendation.
Other recommendations look to reduce solid waste through recycling and encouraging city contractors to be more fuel efficient.
The final three recommendations seek to get everyone on board with the plan by doing things like “ensuring ownership,” engaging staff, and finally, implementing an energy and emissions reduction program.
Page-Brittin expects the city will report on progress with the plan on an annual basis.