Taking action against climate change
Scientists around the world have concluded that the rapid increase in the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is causing an increase in the average temperature on the Earth's surface. GHGs are produced when fossil fuels like gasoline, coal and natural gas are burned or when methane is released from landfills.
What does climate change mean for West Vancouver?
Research shows that about 95 per cent of West Vancouver’s GHGs are generated by the community, and 54 per cent of those GHGs come from heating homes. The rest of the GHGs produced in the community come from on-road commuting (41 per cent) and solid waste (4 per cent). As GHG emissions continue to grow, increased average temperatures will cause drier summers, wetter winters and more frequent extreme weather events, such as heat waves and storm surges. Another product of climate change is sea-level rise. It is estimated that by 2100, the sea in English Bay could rise by as much as one metre and inundate significant portions of West Vancouver’s waterfront.
Tackling climate change will require a range of actions—to reduce GHG emissions and also to prepare for the impacts that it could bring to the District.
Natural gas heating in buildings is a major contributor to West Vancouver's GHG footprint. By properly insulating your home, you can ensure that heat stays in, or out, depending on the season:
- Get an energy audit and follow through with improvements
- Seal existing cracks and purchase windows or window coverings to block out, and keep in, warmth
- Have your furnace serviced regularly to reduce dust and pollen and keep the system operating efficiently.
- Lower your thermostat and put on an extra sweater
- Shade your east and west windows in summer and delay heat-generating activities, such as dishwashing, until evening
- Use fans to circulate air rather than air conditioning
Did you know: Heating is the largest energy user in most homes. In many homes, 20 per cent of all heat loss is through leaks and poor ventilation. Wasted hydroelectric energy increases the demand for more dams and energy infrastructure, and leads to more CO2 emissions. A great way to determine where insulation is needed is a thermal imaging scan that shows where your home is leaking warm or cool air. Hire professionals or do what Eagle Islanders did: work with District staff and Cool North Shore to conduct energy audits and undertake retrofits to reduce GHG emissions.
- Consider a bus ride as a relaxing way to commute to your next appointment
- Driving to work on your own? Try carpooling through a Ride Share program, or car sharing with friends going in the same direction. You will be amazed at your relaxed commute to work and the fuel savings. And this means more money in your pocket for other things!
- Walking and biking will improve your health and fitness and are a great way for commuting to and fro. Electric bikes are excellent for getting around the steep West Vancouver streetscape
- When purchasing a vehicle, look for one with better mileage or consider a hybrid or electric vehicle
- Increase your fuel economy when driving by sticking to posted speed limits and avoiding rapid acceleration and excessive braking
- Plan and combine trips and errands to save time and money as well as reduce wear and tear on your vehicle
Did you know: The District has installed electric vehicle charging stations at Municipal Hall, Gleneagles Community Centre and the West Vancouver Community Centre. There are also several other stations at businesses and municipalities throughout the Lower Mainland. Here’s some more information about electric vehicles and how you can get rebates for greening your ride:
- Conserve water by fixing drips, leaks and installing low-flow shower heads and toilets
- Challenge yourself to a speed shower
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving
Did you know:
- Turning the water off when you brush your teeth will save more than 17 Litres of water
- Using an aerator on all household faucets can cut your annual water consumption by 50 per cent
- Installing a low-flow toilet will save more than 13 Litres per flush
- Low flow shower heads can save you almost 3,000 Litres a month
- Rather than hosing your driveway, use a broom to clean things up and save another 300 Litres of water
- Follow Metro Vancouver’s summer lawn sprinkling regulations
Heating water accounts for 90 per cent of the energy consumption of washing machines. Wash clothing in cold water and hang it to dry outside, or indoors on a drying rack. Buying an EnergyStar-approved washing machine will save both water and energy.
Did you know: Cold water is more delicate on clothing than hot water. Switching to cold water will also save you money on your energy bill, as will hang-drying your clothes.
- When you leave a room, make it a habit to turn off the lights
- Replace standard light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and install automatic lighting controls
- Turn off your computer and unplug electronics when not in use
Did you know: CFLs use 66 per cent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.
Thinking about upgrading your refrigerator, laundry, dishes, cooking, water heater and other appliances? Appliances with EnergyStar ratings typically use 20 per cent less energy than conventional appliances—big savings for you and the environment.
Did you know: Appliance-use comprises about 18 per cent of a typical home’s total energy bill, and the fridge is one of the worst energy offenders. An efficient new refrigerator could save you as much as $150 per year while a new EnergyStar clothes washer could cost just $85 to run annually. You can also join Team Power Smart (it’s free)—reduce your electricity use by 10 per cent over 12 months and you could be eligible for a $75 award.
Less waste in the landfill means less methane, so make recycling part of your daily routine:
- Recycle all packaging and consumer goods that you can
- When shopping, look for minimal packaging, recycled components and products you can easily break down to reuse or recycle
- Glass jars can be reused to store bulk ingredients and then recycled when they are no longer needed
- If a product is heavily packaged, ask retailers if they can recycle or re-use it, or consider whether you really need it. Check if there’s an alternative available.
Did you know: You can recycle or donate just about anything in your home. There are also facilities that dispose of electronics in an environmentally responsible manner—Encorp Pacific Return-It programs recycle "broken" and end-of-life electronics.
Food scraps, food-soiled paper and other compostable products make up nearly 40 per cent of household waste. In West Vancouver, you can divert much of your waste into the Blue Box Recycling system, the Green Can Program or into a backyard composter.
Did you know: You are composting more than ever!
- The amount of yard and food compost diverted from the landfill increased by 1,274 tonnes between 2007 and 2012
- Since the Green Can Program was launched in May 2012, the percentage of waste you removed from landfills has climbed to 62 per cent since 2009
- For the first time ever, the amount of combined food waste and yard trimmings collected has exceeded the amount of garbage collected in West Vancouver
Buying local cuts down on the fossil fuels burned to get the food to you. Visiting farmers markets is a great way to buy local and support our farming community!
Did you know:
- Trucks spend 3,221 of their 6,816 hours on the road each year idling
- 5.5 billion Litres of fuel and about 200,000 tonnes of nitrous oxides (NO2) are expended each year by transport trucks idling at rest stops
Rather than discarding or recycling clothing and household goods, give them a chance at a second life.
- Gently used clothing can be donated to charity or exchanged with friends and family
- Old t-shirts can be repurposed into rags for cleaning
- Household goods can be donated to charity or sold at a garage sale
Did you know: Repurposing reduces the amount of waste sent to the landfill. There is also no need to use energy for recycling and others can benefit from your used items.
- Select plants that are well suited to our climate and require minimal watering and attention
- Use electric or manual gardening tools to save on energy costs
- Use a bin for compost when gardening. The soil produced is better than any store-bought product and will provide your plants with a healthier, more robust life source
- Plant a tree—it provides shade, creates more oxygen and soaks up GHGs from the atmosphere
Did you know: Trees deliver more than cost savings:
- They are important carbon sinks, helping to reduce climate change
- Select varieties require minimal care and water and can withstand local weather extremes
- Fruit or nut trees are great choices, providing you with food as well as shade
Climate Action Plan
In 2008, West Vancouver signed BC's Climate Action Charter, which called on communities to find ways to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Prepared by the Climate Action Working Group in 2010, The Climate Action Plan identifies ways in which residents and municipal operations can make a difference.