In January of last year, inspired by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, our office took on the challenge of trying to achieve carbon neutrality. We read articles, books and blogs; investigated various carbon footprint calculators available online; examined our own consumption habits; and mulled over possible strategies. It was clear that a perfect tally of our energy use would be impossible, since the carbon footprint of goods and services extends back through infinite steps in the production and transport chain. We agreed to work with best estimates using a variety of reliable sources online and in print, starting with the excellent book “How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything” by Mike Berners-Lee. We also decided to forego hiring a consultant, preferring to hack this thing on our own, thereby deepening our own knowledge in the process. [Read more…]
In a previous post, we talked about the ethics of purchasing carbon credits as a way to offset CO2 emissions. Now that the Liberal government has announced its new carbon pricing scheme, many Canadians are looking more closely at the true cost of carbon. It’s clear that the Liberal plan doesn’t have many friends: on one hand, it’s been vilified as too onerous by opponents in several provinces. On the other hand, critics maintain that the plan adopts emission reduction targets and price minimums that are simply too low to make a substantial difference ($10 per tonne by 2018, rising to $50 in 2022). Those waiting for meaningful leadership on this issue continue to be disappointed. [Read more…]
While researching ways to reduce our workplace emissions, we started to ponder the question of carbon credits. For those new to the topic, these can be seen as a kind of environmental currency used to offset greenhouse gas emissions produced by industry, governments, transportation systems, etc. For example: if our office doesn’t manage to reduce our footprint to net zero through site or operational changes, we have the option to purchase carbon credits – say, by donating to a group that plants trees. Our investment serves to offset the emissions that remain on our balance sheet. That’s a highly simplified explanation, but you get the idea. [Read more…]
For a few months now, we’ve been chronicling our efforts to ‘green’ the office with the goal of achieving net-zero energy consumption. One of our first big items was the switch to LED lights, since lighting accounts for 30% of total energy use in the typical office building. Now it was time to look at the cost of staying comfortable. [Read more…]
As the poet wrote, “The world is too much with us” lately. It’s easy to feel despair in the face of social upheaval, natural catastrophe, and economic hardship. Many of us struggle to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but need an infusion of optimism in these troubled times. [Read more…]
It was a shock when most of eastern Vancouver Island entered Level 4 drought conditions in the very first week of summer. This was unprecedented in BC. In Courtenay and Comox, Stage One watering restrictions had already been put into effect a month before,. The Sandwick Waterworks District in north Courtenay had moved quickly to Stage Three. It’s a certainty that the watering restrictions will remain in place through September.
Unfortunately, restrictions have a limited impact on consumption habits. [Read more…]