Princeton to buy carbon offsets

The Town of Princeton is buying carbon offsets to reach its carbon-neutral goal by the end of this year.

A year after Princeton introduced its Climate Action Plan, the town is still making efforts to become more environmentally-friendly.

The plan is for city-owned buildings and fleet to be carbon neutral by the end of this year – something city council knows is no small task.

“The number one contributor to green house gas emission is the energy we use,” said Princeton’s chief administrative officer Patrick Robins.

“We can reduce it substantially, but out lights are always on and we’re always driving our vehicles.”

Last January, Princeton joined the BC Climate Action Charter, a provincial initiative to encourage communities to significantly cut green house gas emissions.

Under the charter, communities must purchase carbon offsets if they don’t reach their carbon-neutral goal.

Since Princeton can’t operate without some emissions, the city will be purchasing around $6,300 worth of carbon offsets.

But this money will be replaced with funding from carbon tax rebates.

The money from the offsets will be used by the provincial government towards energy efficient projects.

The city’s buildings and vehicle fleet create the most green house gases.

Emissions in 2011 will be compared to those at the end of this year to determine how Princeton is doing.

The city is looking at ways it can change its water treatment plants to reduce green house gas emissions.

Water and sewer infrastructure accounts for 42 per cent of Princeton’s corporate energy consumption and 5 per cent of its green house gases.

The museum and the library have both been retrofitted with LED lighting. A new heating and ventilation system in the library will also reduce energy consumption.

Since city vehicles are top green house gas villains, the city is looking into ways to reduce fuel consumption and will be selecting greener cars when current ones need to be replaced.

Small green initiatives can add up over time.

The city is trying to save paper by doing more business electronically.

“We do double sided printing, as opposed to single-sided printing,” Robins said.

City employees hope Princeton residents will follow their green example.

But they will also be giving new home developers a nudge to help save the planet.

“We’re looking at going beyond what is required by B.C. building codes,” Robins said.

Environmentally-friendly initiatives have been increasingly incorporated into B.C. codes.

For example, new houses must now have high-efficency toilets, which save 20 per cent more water than traditional toilets.

Around 35 per cent of domestic household water use is from flushing.

Alternative energy systems may require higher up-front capital costs, but will reduce operating costs over the lifetime of the facility, a report to city council says.

Out of 188 municipalities in B.C., 179 have signed the B.C. Climate Action Charter.