Creating a greener York Region

York Region has released its latest energy plan, which outlines conservation opportunities that could reduce annual corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions up to 60 per cent by 2051 compared to 2014 emissions.

Those opportunities, which include a mix of conservation, efficiency and renewable energy alternatives, could result in a cumulative savings of about 930,000 tonnes of GHG emissions, according to report from the commissioner of environmental services.

A regulation under the Electricity Act requires public agencies, including municipalities, to update their Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan every five years. York’s 2019 Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan includes short, medium and long-term targets.

“This is a practical plan, developed by taking into account the effects of extreme weather, costs, ease of services to residents and advances in technology,” says Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. Strategies to reduce corporate emissions are aligned with four focus areas: buildings, non-transit fleet, transit buses, and water and wastewater processes.

York Region completed its first energy plan in 2014 and updated it in 2016. Accomplishments to date include Living Building certification for the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre, completion of 17 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and making retrofits to York Region Transit buses that have resulted in increased efficiency and 1,100 tonnes of GHG emission reduction per year.

York’s Greening Strategy, meanwhile, outlines 2018 achievements, which include planting 101,122 trees and shrubs, securing 32.5 hectares of environmentally significant lands.

Woodland cover and canopy cover, created by the leaves and tree crowns, can help fight the effects of climate change by slowing storm water run-off, help lower summer temperatures, reduce energy needed to cool and heat buildings, improve air quality and stabilize our water table.

“Planting trees and protecting our forests provides an assortment of ecological benefits, such as protecting our water sources, reducing soil destruction, cleaning our air and providing wildlife habitat,” says City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, Chair of Environmental Services. “More than simply creating shade and relaxing outdoor places, access to green spaces, such as trees and shrubs, can also improve one’s mental, physical and overall health, while contributing to a greener York Region.”

The Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre was the first in Canada to achieve Living Building Challenge certification.

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