City of Grand Forks set to reduce carbon emission levels by 2020

Grand Forks city staff have been working with the Carbon Neutral Kootenays Project to reduce the corporate carbon footprint.

City staff have been working with the Carbon Neutral Kootenays Project to reduce the corporate carbon footprint in Grand Forks.

The initiative began in 2008 and aims to reduce emission levels by 2020 to the levels established in 2007.

When the project began, Grand Forks’ benchmark was 420 tonnes.

Based on figures from 2010, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions now total around 330 tonnes.

“We are now down to 330 tonnes,” explained Lynne Burch, the city’s chief administrative officer. “In our sustainability plan, our goal is to reduce our carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. We’re already down by 23 per cent, so we’ve done a huge bit since 2007.”

City staff and council representation met in a workshop in January with facilitators from the Carbon Neutral Kootenays Project to discuss other methods of emission reduction.

The ideas include the removal of the existing oil furnace at the Public Works Yard and replacing it with another source of heating.

Patricia Dehnel, community energy planner for Carbon Neutral Kootenays Project, pointed out that Grand Forks is doing really well.

“We were able to go into 19 of the local governments in our area and provide one-on-one carbon neutral planning workshops,” she said.

“One thing that Grand Forks is doing really well is that of the 19 governments we’ve facilitated, Grand Forks is the third to take action to the council.”

Dehnel stated that some changes Grand Forks has done include a monitoring program for fleet fuel consumption.

“That way they can really see how each vehicle in their fleet is performing,” she explained. “If it’s consuming more fuel than usual to maintain the vehicle, it can be addressed. Of course, this saves the corporation money and GHG emissions.”

Along with the monitoring program, Grand Forks has plans to conduct an energy audit on its existing facilities, including the wastewater treatment plan energy assessment.

This will determine how much energy the wastewater energy plan is using and different methods to reduce energy consumption.

“The great thing about reducing energy consumption is then you’re saving money, you’re not so dependent on energy and the price fluctuations,” stated Dehnel. “We’re about to have an energy increase in price, so the more efficient you can make the corporation, the better off you are.”

She added she was inspired by what Grand Forks and the rest of the Kootenay communities have done.

There are 35 local governments and First Nations that are working with in the Carbon Neutral Kootenays project.

The project is being funded by the three Kootenay regional districts and plus Columbia Basin Trust.