While global leaders are meeting in Glasgow, Scotland to talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a Manitoba city with a Scottish name that’s showing leadership by acting to reduce their GHG emissions.
It takes all levels of government to drive change through collaboration and one of the many ways Selkirk is doing its part is by retrofitting existing buildings and building new ones to be greenhouse gas emission free.
Selkirk buildings going GHG-Free
A prime example of this effort is Selkirk’s new Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, the city’s largest capital investment ever, and also one of its greenest.
The $39 million plant, jointly funded by all three levels of government, uses no fossil fuels for heating. Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol says the old plant was the municipal corporation’s single largest emitter of GHGs.
“The old facility was the single largest point source of GHG’s in the city’s inventory. We’ve been tracking our corporate emissions since 2016 and consistently that plant accounted for about 16% of our total corporate emissions. In 2020, it produced 198 tonnes of CO2 equivalent GHGs. With the change to the new facility, we’ll be eliminating those emissions,” Nicol says.
Nicol says the city’s water treatment plant – originally built in 1961 – was the city’s second largest source, but it’s on its way to being carbon neutral as well.
“In 2019 we replaced about half of the outdated heating and cooling systems in the water treatment plant with an innovative geo-thermal system that uses the city’s existing wells rather than have to dig new ones. The system was designed for expansion and so next year, we will replace the remaining systems making the entire plant fossil-fuel free.”
Prior to 2019 the Selkirk Water Treatment plant accounted for 15% of the city’s corporate emissions on average. In 2018, the last full year prior to the partial conversion, the plant emitted 175 tonnes of CO2e. By comparison, in 2020, the first full year following the conversion, it produced just 74.7 tonnes.
Nicol says the remaining city buildings make up about 25% of the city’s total corporate GHG emissions in an average per year.
“Retrofitting these facilities with alternative heating systems is a critical part of the city’s effort to get to net-zero operations. We have many older facilities, so either as part of a full replacement of the facility, or by using our capital asset management program to replace systems that have reached the end of their useful life, we can eliminate our use of fossil-fuel heating and drastically reduce the carbon-foot print of our operations,” Nicol says.
Selkirk meeting and exceeding net zero emissions
The Government of Canada’s national greenhouse gas reduction targets call for a reduction of 40‑45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. By reducing and eliminating GHG emissions from building operations alone, the city expects to exceed the national target by 2030.
Glasgow is playing host to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) from October 31 – November 12, 2021.
This summit, known as the world’s last, best chance to tackle climate change makes four things that need to happen very clear:
- Secure global net zero by mid century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilize finance
- Work together to deliver
Selkirk is acting while listening and calling on everyone to do the same.