University of Calgary enacts Climate Action Plan to cut greenhouse gases, lower operating costs

The University of Calgary plans to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next five years and 80 per cent by 2050, according to the university’s new Climate Action Plan. The University of Calgary is the first post-secondary educational institution in Alberta, and the second in Canada, to release a detailed Climate Action Plan after joining international efforts to tackle climate change.

“As one of the largest energy users in this city, the University of Calgary is committed to achieving significant emissions reductions in our operations and becoming a leader in showcasing the benefits of a low-carbon economy,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary. “The University of Calgary is uniquely positioned to act on its Climate Action Plan. The energy and environment field is one of our strategic research priorities and we strive to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of our institution.”

The Climate Action Plan identifies strategies for achieving institutional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and highlights University of Calgary’s academic strengths in the management of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as well as significant co-curricular student leadership on campus.

“U of C is on track to meeting the 2015 target,” says Joanne Perdue, director of campus sustainability. “Transportation demand management programs are in place and expanding, our multi-year Energy Performance Initiative will continue to drive down energy use and operating costs in existing buildings.” In addition, Perdue says the university’s new Cogeneration Plant, which will come on-line in spring 2011, will provide significant emission reductions and lower utility bills.

Other examples of energy efficiency and emissions reductions include:

  • Energy efficiency retrofits to existing buildings totaling $15 million that are expected to save $3 million in annual utility bill savings, including replacement of street lights with energy-efficient LED technology. Energy efficiency audits in 35 buildings are being conducted to help identify the next suite of energy efficiency audits.
  • The university’s annual Power Off Challenge, which sees buildings across campus compete for three weeks to reduce electrical consumption by shutting off lights, turning off desktop and lab equipment. The most recent challenge held from Nov. 14 to Dec. 4 saw power use decline by 54,000 kilowatt hours despite a cold snap that occurred during much of the challenge.
  • More than 200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity have been produced by photo-voltaic array on the south side of the Child Development Centre since it opened five years ago. The array provides enough electricity to power about 25 Calgary homes and is one of the largest building-based photo-voltaic installations in Canada.

Releasing the Climate Action Plan is an important step forward in the university’s commitment to excellence and leadership in advancing sustainability. In 2008, the University of Calgary was among the first of 28 schools to sign onto the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada. Meanwhile, 676 universities in the United States have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Signatories to both declarations are required to complete a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory and Climate Action Plan within specified timelines.

The University of Calgary was responsible for approximately 330,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in its baseline year of 2008-09. It would take approximately 15 million full-grown trees annually to offset these emissions.

You might also like