September 25, 2015

York Region gets ClimateWise

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd ClimateWise Business Network meeting which was hosted by the Windfall Ecology Centre at the Markham Convergence Centre. The event brought together sustainability leaders from across York Region to discuss the creation of a carbon reduction program for businesses and institutions across the region. The proposed business network is modelled on the Sustainability Colab which has supported the development of regional carbon reduction initiatives across southern Ontario over the past five years (including Sustainable Waterloo Region, and the Niagara Sustainability Initiative).

At the event we heard from Graham Seaman, Director of Sustainability at the City of Markham, about Markham’s Greenprint which includes a target of net zero energy, water, waste and emissions by 2050. The City has a number of initiatives underway to help achieve these ambitious goals, including a municipal (or community) energy plan which is being developed with funding support from the Provincial government. Markham has one of the largest fleets of rooftop solar energy in the province, with 1.4 MW installed and a target of 2.2MW by 2016.

We then heard from Brent Kopperton, Executive Director of the Windfall Ecology Centre (WEC) who is leading the implementation of the ClimateWise Business Network. Brent noted that WEC sees itself as a “think and do” actor, and is thus engaged in a number of community level implementation initiatives, such as a community-wide energy efficiency retrofit program for aboriginal communities in Ontario.

Finally the group heard from Mike Morrice, Executive Director at Sustainability Colab, about experiences from other regional carbon reduction initiatives in Waterloo and Niagara before launching into discussions to provide input on the development of York Region’s ClimateWise business network. We discussed issues such as:

  • How do we avoid overlap, and build complementarity with existing initiatives in the Waterloo region?
  • How do we ensure that there is value in participation from organizations of various sizes and from diverse industry and institutional sectors?
  • How do we make the exercise of measuring and reporting carbon not redundant to other energy management initiatives that many organizations already have underway?
  • Which GHG accounting standards should we utilize to ensure consistency and comparability (GHG Protocol?)

In all this was a great discussion, and I look forward to participating in the next ClimateWise business network meeting where we will get into the nitty-gritty of which particular low carbon indicators should be included in the program, and what emission sources should be reported on?

About the blogger

Ian McVey is a Project Manager with the Ontario Climate Consortium. He is interested in investigating the links that exist between climate change and mainstream policy areas such as land-use planning.

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