Reducing greenhouse gas emissions continues in the Vernon School District, but it’s impossible to eliminate them completely.
Last year, the district was required to pay $76,675 plus GST to the Ministry of Education to offset its carbon gas emissions.
“Because we are not zero in our carbon dioxide emissions, we do have to pay and we use block funding for that,” said secretary-treasurer Randy Hoffman. “But we do get to claim back the additional litres of carbon tax surcharge on fuel, giving us $73,000 back.
“I don’t know that we can ever be carbon neutral, as we have too many aging buildings.”
The board is required to present a Carbon Neutral Action Report to the ministry, with details of the work it has done to reduce its emissions.
“(Executive assistant) Lynn Jameson does all of the hard work, and it’s burdensome at best,” said Hoffman. “The ministry gives us spreadsheets and we have to fill them out, including information such as what kind of lawnmowers we use, what kind of buses, how many microwaves, but we would not get this work done without Lynn.”
British Columbia’s public sector became carbon neutral in 2010, and the K-12 education sector is taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Climate Action Revenue Incentive (CARI) Charter was introduced September 2008. School boards that sign the charter will be reimbursed annually for all of the carbon tax they paid in the previous calendar year.
In the Vernon School District, other initiatives include the promotion of anti-idling at all of its properties, and encouraging recycling, reusing, composting and waste-reduction programs.
It has continued to replace older maintenance fleet vehicles with more fuel effective vehicles.
In its buildings, the district has been involved in an energy retro fit program such as low flow, light sensors, temperature setbacks, water management, lighting, use of low E paint and recycled material where possible.
As well, a computer-based energy management system has been implemented. Co2 sensors are in many locations that turn the fresh air flow on or off according to occupancy as well as door sensors, so if gym doors are wide open, the A/C will not come on.
All appliance replacements will be Energy Star rated, and many teachers travelling to rural schools have been carpooling.
The completion of the new Coldstream elementary and Vernon secondary schools — both rated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold — the district has been able to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
“With the completion of Coldstream, this has led to the greatest reduction in utility consumption in any one year in our school system,” said Hoffman. “And we anticipate similar reductions at VSS.”