Canada is taking steps towards relying less on fossil fuels. Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she wants 90% of electricity in the country to come from sustainable sources by 2030. That’s up 10% from where we are now.
Prince George has already taken steps towards reducing the cities reliance on non-renewable resources. Through the Downtown District Energy System, Lakeland Sawmill has been providing heat and hot water to the Energy Centre, City Hall, Civic Centre, Coliseum, and the Four Seasons Pool over the past 4 years. “Just recently-this past year- the Plaza 400 building is now set up on that system, as is the Provincial Court house,” says Mayor Lyn Hall. “That has really grown over the years, and of course we are really wanting to take a look at getting that into the private sector and not just government facilities.”
Hall says Prince George has become known as the Bioenergy capital of the world, but adds our work is never done. “We are always looking at how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Right now we are taking a look at the electrical vehicle piece, hybrids. So we are certainly on track. Every project we do we are always thinking about how do we reduce our footprint.”
UNBC is leading the way in reducing fossil fuel consumption. Assistant Director of Facilities, David Claus, says about 78% of the University (including the first Residence Building) is now heated by the Bioenergy Plant on campus. “The main benefit is that we are burning wood. That wood brought carbon out of the atmosphere fairly recently. When we burn it we release carbon back in, which forms a short cycle on the order of say 100 years or so. Whereas if we are burning natural gas, that’s carbon that came out of the atmosphere a very long time ago and we are releasing it back into the atmosphere at a rate much faster than it was absorbed.”