Resource Conservation and Climate Change
Conserving resources and reducing waste are cornerstones of any organization’s sustainability initiatives. Waste reduction and recycling are common entry points for thinking about day to day impacts on the environment.
- Reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduce consumption of resources and waste generation
From 2006 to 2018 the VSB implemented electricity saving actions equivalent to more than 20% of our electricity consumption. These savings are equivalent to an avoided cost of $800,000 annually.
Conservation has become even more important. Electricity prices (per unit of energy) will rise by 20% over 5 years. Natural gas prices are low now, but variable and difficult to predict. We are adding new schools into the District, and within existing schools there is an increasing demand for energy as we embrace new technologies.
In 2014 the VSB created a conservation action plan that is targeted to reduce electricity consumption by an additional 10% and to reduce natural gas consumption by 5% by 2018.
For many years, our energy savings have been achieved through hardware changes – new lights, and new equipment - these will continue. Going forward there will be an increasing focus on behavioural activities that students and staff can undertake to conserve energy. To learn more about our plan to reduce energy please read our Strategic Energy Management Plan (SEMP) document.
Provincial Climate Action Commitment
Carbon Neutral Action Report (CNAR)
All public sector organizations in BC monitor and report on their carbon emissions (required by legislation). To find out about our carbon footprint and what we are doing to reduce it read our latest Carbon Neutral Action Report.
Carbon Footprint & Carbon Neutral Commitment
Using "SMARTTool," the VSB calculates its annual Greenhouse Gas emissions and reports that data to the Ministry of Environment, as per the Climate Change Accountability Act. In 2018 the total GHG emissions for the school district (measured in tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent, or tCO2e) was 14,924 tonnes. Approximately 90% of the carbon footprint comes from the burning of Natural Gas to heat our schools. Paper consumption is responsible for about 4%, electricity use is responsible for another 3%, and fleet fuel contributes to about 3% of the school district’s carbon footprint.
In order to address the high percentage of our carbon foot print coming from using Natural Gas to heat our schools, the school district is working to lower its energy and carbon footprint through a variety of technological, operational and behavioural strategies.
Renewable Energy Technologies & Systems
Solar Photo-Voltaic Energy
Sir Charles Tupper Secondary was one of 11 schools in B.C. that received funding from the provincial government for the installation of 5kW Solar-electric (photovoltaic) panels generating renewable electricity.
Sustainable School Design & Construction
All new construction in the District is built to LEED-Gold equivalency, and school design includes a number of ‘green initiatives’ such as low flow plumbing fixtures, low VOC materials and heat-recovery from classroom exhaust air to pre-heat incoming air. Going forward we strive to exceed this standard and build high-performance schools that approach ‘Carbon Neutral’ or ‘Net-Zero’ standards.
Maintenance & Sustainability
In addition to the lighting upgrades that new schools or seismic upgrades receive, the District also upgrades the lighting at existing schools with Annual Facilities Grants the District receives from the Ministry of Education. This results in a substantial energy savings to the District – anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent reduction depending on the site. In addition to energy savings, retrofits of old lighting improve the indoor learning environment, and seismically restrain overhead fixtures.
Old lighting on the left and new lighting on the right show the impact lighting can have on the learning environment!
Several boiler upgrades have been funded by the Province’s Carbon Neutral Capital Program, which provides funds for school districts to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. These upgrades are showing substantial energy savings, lowering District utility costs and improving comfort for staff and students.
Direct Digital Controls System Upgrades
Direct Digital Controls (DDCs) are automation systems that control the various components of building operations. Many existing schools have partial or aging DDC systems and these systems are being upgraded to better understand building operations, to diagnose problems, and to more proactively manage energy consumption.