City of Victoria’s green targets need community support

Climate Smart program helping city reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A subsidized program that teaches businesses how to measure and reduce their environmental impact is showing early signs of success and helping the city meet its reduction targets.

The Climate Smart program is just one of many strategies Victoria introduced to work at achieving a 33-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 2007 levels, said city sustainability director Roy Brooke.

The program is an example of the type of initiatives he hopes to roll out in the next three years, with council approval.

“The city has invested a lot of time developing a range of cost-effective actions and strategies to reduce climate impacts,” Brooke said.

“There’s a lot more to come, but we need support to do it.”

Graduates of the program have become more competitive by saving money and positioning themselves as environmental leaders, he added.

“The biggest change for us was in the way we heat our water … Natural gas is our biggest energy culprit,” said Jordan Schneider, production manager at Phillips Brewing, one of 46 Victoria businesses to have completed the program since 2011.

The program gave his organization the tools to measure its carbon footprint and conduct an accurate energy audit.

“Some things are no-brainers, and we’re wondering why we didn’t do in the past,” Schneider said, referencing their newly expanded recycling program and a switch to high-efficiency light bulbs.

Saanich and Victoria are aiming to provide the Climate Smart program to 50 businesses in 2012, with the help of Capital Regional District funding.

Mark Boyson, Saanich’s sustainability co-ordinator, said he has witnessed “cross-pollination” of green ideas between businesses as a result of the program.

The subsidized program cost to businesses ranges from $250 to $1,000, depending on the number of employees in a participating organization.

The next Climate Smart workshop begins Sept. 26 and there is still space available.

For more information, visit climatesmartbusiness.com/CRD.

dpalmer@vicnews.com