University emissions fall, while City’s rise

Report relays a 10 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 to 2012; City saw increased levels

Queen's has seen a 10 per cent reduction in emissions since 2010.
Queen's has seen a 10 per cent reduction in emissions since 2010.

The University’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 10 per cent since 2010, according to a 2011-12 greenhouse gas inventory prepared by the University’s Sustainability office in May.

The University is seeking to meet the sustainability goals of the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada, which was signed by Principal Daniel Woolf in 2010.

Total emissions for 2012 were 45,382 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, compared to 57,716 metric tonnes in 2008. The reduction of 10 per cent since 2010 will be taken into account as the Queen’s Climate Action Plan continues to develop future emissions reductions targets.

The 2011-12 inventory examines the University’s greenhouse gas emissions over this period and observes energy trends in order to highlight areas of progress and areas that need improvement, in addition to creating action plans to further reduce emissions.

“The University has invested in successful projects that have lowered emissions and achieved alignment by addressing deferred maintenance needs and energy efficiency initiatives,” Aaron Ball, the sustainability manager of the Queen’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, told the Journal via email.

According to Ball, the University has invested annually in energy efficiency projects, focusing primarily on retrofitting campus lighting, since 2010. The new lighting projects — which include upgrading lamp efficiencies, ballast swapping and de-lamping — are projected to save 520,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year, while reducing emissions associated with electricity consumption.

A large boiler in the central heating plant on campus was also replaced with a new unit during the time covered by the inventory. The new unit provides a 2.5 per cent efficiency gain, while also allowing campus buildings to be nearly entirely reliant on the use of natural gas. Natural gas is considered cleaner than other fossil fuels because it releases fewer greenhouse gases when it is burned, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The University’s emissions will be included in the City of Kingston’s greenhouse gas inventory, Ball said.

After upticks of emission levels in 2010 and 2011 led to missed targets in 2014, the City has set new goals to reduce emissions by 15 per cent by the year 2020. These benchmarks will be outlined in the new Kingston Climate Action Plan. “Queen’s is one of many community partners contributing to the City’s greenhouse gas inventory,” Ball said.

St. Lawrence College, the Ontario Power Authority Save On Energy program, Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu and a non-governmental organization called SWITCH — a networking hub for alternative energy research — are also contributing to the City’s inventory.

The University’s strategy to reduce emissions revolves mainly around reducing carbon emissions and making electricity use more efficient. The University and the City have similar objectives regarding environmental planning, their main concern being the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Ball.

The province’s efforts to reduce emissions associated with the provincial electricity grid have also contributed to the University’s greenhouse gas inventory.

The provincial electricity grid, also referred to as the Smart Grid, shows the most unsustainable areas and industries across Ontario in terms of energy use, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator of Ontario (IESO).

Ball said Ontario has been reducing the use of coal plants and is looking to introduce more renewable energy sources.

“These large scale efforts of the province have had a direct effect on reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions at Queen’s, as seen in reports reflecting its electricity consumption,” he said.

“As climate change is a global issue, these external initiatives are essential because they are helping to increase sustainable energy use both locally and across Ontario.”

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