Squamish and Whistler tackle embodied carbon

Monday, September 27, 2021

The District of Squamish and the Resort Municipality of Whistler are collaborating on a new project to lower embodied emissions in new construction and develop an Embodied Carbon Guide for B.C. Municipalities. This project is being recognized as a potential “game-changer” by the Community Energy Association (CEA).

The Game-Changer program provides local governments with access to CEA’s staff expertise in order to develop a local climate action initiative that has the potential to drive change within communities. The program is new in 2021 and is part of a suite of CEA programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to communities during this decade of climate action.

“The Resort Municipality of Whistler is pleased to partner with the District of Squamish and the Community Energy Association on this important initiative,” said Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton. “Climate action is one of the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s focus areas, as we work towards an ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. We know our buildings account for a significant amount of these emissions, so finding ways to lower their embodied emissions is critical to achieving our goals and lessening our community’s overall impact on climate change.”

CEA has previously worked with Squamish and Whistler on their local climate action plans, which were adopted by Squamish Council in April 2020 and Whistler Council in December 2020. Both plans include pledges to significantly reduce local greenhouse gas emissions (45 per cent in Squamish and 50 per cent in Whistler) by 2030. Both plans also recognize that buildings account for approximately one-third of local emissions.

While most of those emissions are associated with the ongoing heating and operation of a building, about one-quarter of emissions in current buildings are “embodied,” and associated with the manufacturing, transportation, installation, and disposal of the materials used in the construction of buildings.

In the future, as buildings become more energy-efficient, those embodied emissions are expected to account for more than half of a building’s total emissions. Currently, embodied emissions aren’t reported or measured in municipalities. Squamish and Whistler’s work on embodied emissions with CEA will lead to an Embodied Carbon Guide for B.C. Municipalities that will feature Squamish and Whistler as case studies.

The embodied carbon project has been approved by the councils of both municipalities.

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