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SD43 cuts energy use but pays a price

School District 43 has cut carbon emissions by 20% in four years, according to its carbon neutral report. - THINKSTOCK
School District 43 has cut carbon emissions by 20% in four years, according to its carbon neutral report.
— image credit: THINKSTOCK

School District 43's green initiatives have resulted in a 20% reduction in carbon emissions but the effort hasn't come without a cost.

The cash-strapped district has shelled out more than $1 million to Pacific Carbon Trust in offsets for its electricity, natural gas, paper and fleet vehicle emissions — approximately $754,000 more than it has received in provincial grants to make schools more energy efficient.

SD43's energy and sustainability principal, Dave Sands, said the dollars don't necessarily add up but the district should take pride in its accomplishments because behavioural changes have made a difference in reducing the district's carbon footprint.

In 2010, when the district began to keep track of emissions in accordance with provincial carbon neutral requirements, it spent $290,025 for 11,6490 tonnes of C02e emissions.

This year, the district's CO2e emissions were 9,329 tonnes and it paid out $239,950 to the Pacific Carbon Trust.

"It comes with a cost," Sands told trustees at Tuesday's board of education, "but the great thing is there is significant improvement."

Trustees weren't convinced, however, that paying carbon offset money is helping students in the classroom and opted to send a letter of complaint to the government and local MLAs.

"We want that money to go to education," Port Moody Trustee Keith Watkins said.

The lobbying effort comes as the province moves to make changes to its carbon neutral program. Sands said information about the transition hasn't yet been communicated to districts.

Meanwhile, Sands lauded district efforts to pare down electricity, fuel and paper use by changing behaviour and installing more energy efficient lighting and heating systems.

He said the district is planning further changes to cut down on paper consumption by reducing the number of photocopiers, buying more efficient ones and tracking their use.

The change is necessary, according to superintendent Tom Grant, because the district now uses so much paper that, if the a year's worth of packages were lined up end to end, they would stretch 13.9 km, equivalent to the distance from the board office on Poirier Street in Coquitlam to Coquitlam Centre mall — and back.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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