North Cowichan and Sustainability Solutions Group win 2013 Climate & Energy Action Award

| Environment |

For release: 18th September 2013 Contact: Petronella Tyson, petronella@sustainabilitysolutions.ca

The Municipality of North Cowichan was awarded the Community Energy Association’s Community Planning and Development Award at this week’s UBCM conference. Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG) performed North Cowichan’s unique and innovative Climate Action and Energy Plan, launched earlier this year. The plan, with funding support from BC Hydro, inventoried the community’s existing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and identified future trends in energy and GHG emissions based on population, land use, technology and other factors.

SSG was chosen to lead this project because of the team’s strong commitment to community empowerment and non­traditional, holistic approaches to climate change and emissions planning. North Cowichan’s Council and SSG worked in partnership with support from the community.

North Cowichan Councillor Kate Marsh, Chair of the Climate Change Action Committee of Council, was pleased with the outcome “We knew that in order to get a platinum plan, we needed an innovative community planning consultant. We engaged Sustainability Solutions Group who are strong in both technological innovation and community engagement. We used a variety of amazing in­person and online engagement tools with over 400 people participating.“

Using GHGProof, an open source model from SSG used by over twenty communities in BC, the analysis went beyond the provincial government inventory data by including solid and liquid waste emissions, agricultural production and forests to establish a more comprehensive picture of North Cowichan emissions, giving the municipality more options for energy and emissions actions.

Councillor Marsh was impressed with SSG’s toolkit. “We used GHGProof, we considered the social cost of carbon in our decision making, and we were perhaps the first municipality to use what we affectionately call the ‘MAC’ ­ the marginal abatement curve ­ that allows us to make land use and policy decisions based on the emissions savings and monetary costs/savings of any action. We estimated that under the plan each North Cowichan household would save $4,000 a year based on transportation and energy savings by 2050. That’s not chump change.”

SSG Director Jeremy Murphy led the project. “It was important to us to see the project through a benefit to the community lens. Starting with the question “how will addressing energy and emissions benefit residents?” led to increased ‘green jobs’, more abundant and vibrant communities and more money kept in people’s pockets ­ all while meaningfully reducing energy use and emissions production.”

North Cowichan has already begun to implement the plan, passing one of Canada’s first municipal tax levies to seed a revolving loan fund that will support energy efficiency projects, and creating a Revitalization Tax by­law – a tax holiday to qualifying developments and green businesses.

Speaking about the plan at the UBCM conference, Councillor Marsh concluded: “The task may feel daunting, yet each one doing our part will make all the difference. As Goethe said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!””

Find more information about the project and SSG at www.sustainabilitysolutions.ca ­

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