For first time the Coast Mountains school district has purchased carbon offsets as part of the province’s move towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Alanna Cameron, secretary-treasurer for the district, said that for 2010 the school district purchased just under $65,000 of carbon offsets, which is based on $25 per tonne and does not include taxes.
The province’s Climate Action Plan requires public sector organizations to be carbon neutral by 2010.
“It’s raised some eyebrows definitely. It’s for a good cause, no doubt greenhouse gas reduction is important, and it was the ministry’s decision to get onboard and support something like that,” Cameron explained.
The carbon offsets are purchased from Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), a BC Crown corporation created in 2008 to provide a way for the public sector to offset greenhouse gas emissions they were unable to reduce.
Money paid into the trust is used by PCT for carbon reduction projects around the province.
The school district measures its greenhouse gas emissions using SMARTool, a calculation tool developed by the province. Greenhouse gas emissions come about in a number of ways, such as energy and electricity consumption and vehicle emissions.
Colin Grewar, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Environment, said the province has worked with school districts for three years leading up to this point, providing technical support and money for energy upgrades and new technology.
“The more they reduce, the less they’ll pay in energy as well as offset costs,” Grewar said.
He also said school districts receive reimbursements on the carbon tax, and that Coast Mountains just received a grant of $37,234.97.
Since 2009, the district has been working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions including upgrading boiler plants at Mount Elizabeth Secondary and Kildala Elementary schools, and is currently in the process of upgrading the boiler plant at Nechako Elementary.
The district is replacing the 32 watt lamps with 28 watt lamps in all schools in the district, and has entered into an agreement with BC Hydro to have an energy study done on lighting redesign for three facilities.