Region achieves carbon neutral 2013

Hard work on several fronts made Cowichan Valley Regional District operations carbon neutral in 2013.

"As a signatory to the BC Climate Action Charter, the CVRD has been working to meet its commitments to be carbon neutral in its operations," said Kuan-Jian Foo, senior environmental analyst of the regional district’s environmental initiatives division, when making the announcement last week.

The effort is broadly based, he said, and gave examples.

In 2013, the total CVRD operational green house gas emissions were 1,674 tonnes of CO2 as a result of the daily business of the CVRD (including operating recreation centres, managing and maintaining parks, solid waste collection and disposal, water management, emergency services, planning and bylaw enforcement and corporate operations).

GHG emissions are created by burning carbon-based fuels to heat and power buildings, as well as powering vehicles and machinery.

The CVRD has been actively reducing its GHG emissions by implementing its Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

This means "switching fuel from high carbon source heating systems to high efficiency electric heat pumps in several of its facilities, working with Cowichan Energy Alternatives to supplement diesel fuel with local produced biodiesel in selected fleet vehicles and identifying energy conservation measures in all major CVRD facilities by completing detailed audits," Foo said. In 2013, the regional district was able to balance its carbon emissions with community based offset projects, which included organic waste diversion from the landfill to local composting facilities and supporting a community fuel-switching project at The Hub at Cowichan Station.

Diverting the organics to a local composting facility reduces GHG emissions by more than 70 per cent compared to land filling because dumping organic waste in a landfill produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The CVRD has been offering free yard and garden waste disposal at its facilities since 2007, "avoiding more than 4,000 tonnes of GHG emissions to date," according to Foo.

On top of that, helping with the upgrade to geothermal at Cowichan Station’s HUB has led to a reduction in energy use emissions of 28.8 tonnes at the facility in 2013.