Courtenay continuing to reduce carbon footprint

Lighting retrofits, solar pool covers and applications to be part of a pilot project for electric vehicles are some of the steps Courtenay is taking to reduce its carbon footprint.
City staff provided an update on the Corporate Climate Action Strategy to councillors Monday.

Lighting retrofits, solar pool covers and applications to be part of a pilot project for electric vehicles are some of the steps Courtenay is taking to reduce its carbon footprint.

City staff provided an update on the Corporate Climate Action Strategy to councillors Monday.

“We’ve focused on several key strategic areas, electrical retrofits,” said Tillie Manthey, director of financial services. “We have pretty much held our own in terms of our carbon footprint. This past year, we noticed an increase in fuel consumption due to a greater number of snow days that required more snow removal. Overall, we can report that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The City of Courtenay signed onto the Province of B.C.’s Climate Action Charter in October 2007, and the City has committed to developing strategies and taking action to achieve carbon-neutral municipal operations by 2012.

The City continues to work with BC Hydro on energy efficiency upgrades for municipal buildings. A lighting retrofit was completed at the Linc in March, and five other municipal buildings will undergo lighting retrofits this year, according to the report. Once these are completed, the City will qualify for a $25,000 BC Hydro energy efficiency grant, it noted.

Beginning this month, Courtenay City Hall will undergo an exterior retrofit, a project that will include resealing the windows and replacing the exterior building lighting.

The furnace at public works will be upgraded to a new air source heat pump.

“The results will see a decrease in natural gas and electricity consumption,” noted the staff report. “This system will also improve the indoor air quality of the building.”

In May, the City received funding from FortisBC to retrofit the Courtenay and District Memorial Pool with a solar thermal loop and a thermal pool cover. This is expected to reduce the City’s corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 tonnes and is expected to result in annual savings of $15,000.

Courtenay has applied to be selected as a pilot municipality, which would provide an electric vehicle for the City fleet at the beginning of 2012.

The City’s parks department has installed in-ground waste containers and supplementary in-ground recycling containers in city parks, which will help reduce solid waste and reduce the frequency of pickups by compacting the waste and recycling.

The City has also purchased recycling containers that will be strategically located throughout downtown.

“I wanted to congratulate staff on really putting their minds to the issue of what we can do to reduce  greenhouse gases and get ourselves to that place we want to be by 2012,” said Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard. “They’re doing a really good job.”

Coun. Jon Ambler noted there are those who believe in climate change and those who don’t, but he felt people on both sides would likely approve of the steps Courtenay is taking.

“It doesn’t matter which side you are in that argument in this case because what we’re doing makes economic sense, as well as greenhouse gas sense,” he said. “It makes good economic sense for the City of Courtenay to be going ahead with these green plans, and as long as we continue to be doing that, I think you’re going to be endorsed by both sides of the debate.”

Courtenay is one of the leaders in the province in corporate climate action, administrator Sandy Gray told councillors.

“We’re a long ways to addressing many issues … but we’re certainly out there, we’re being very proactive, and council’s been very supportive of staff,” he said.

City staff’s next steps include establishing measurement and evaluation processes, working with major contractors of the city to initiate plans for their respective business, completing municipal building retrofits, applying for grants and funding, and implementing building retrofit priorities.

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