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Climate Action Plan to cut greenhouse gases, lower operating costs


January 4, 2011
By Alyssa Dalton

As the first Alberta school to draft a long-term emissions reduction plan, the University of Calgary plans to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next five years and 80 percent by 2050. 

“As one of the largest energy users in this city, the University of Calgary is committed to achieving significant emissions reductions in our operations and becoming a leader in showcasing the benefits of a low-carbon economy,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, president of the university. “The energy and environment field is one of our strategic research priorities and we strive to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of our institution.”
The Climate Action Plan identifies strategies for achieving institutional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, which Joanne Perdue, director of campus sustainability, said the university is on track to meet.  
“Transportation demand management programs are in place and expanding, our multi-year Energy Performance Initiative will continue to drive down energy use and operating costs in existing buildings,” she said.  
Perdue also added that the university’s new Cogeneration Plant, which will come online in spring 2011, will provide “significant emission reductions and lower utility bills.”
Other examples of energy efficiency and emissions reductions include:
  • Energy efficiency retrofits to existing buildings totaling $15 million that are expected to save $3 million in annual utility bill savings, including replacement of street lights with energy-efficient LED technology. 
  • The university’s annual Power Off Challenge, which sees buildings across campus compete for three weeks to reduce electrical consumption by shutting off lights, turning off desktop and lab equipment. The most recent challenge (Nov. 14-Dec. 14) saw power use decline by 54,000 kilowatt hours.
  • More than 200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity have been produced by photo-voltaic array on the south side of the Child Development Centre since it opened five years ago. The array provides enough electricity to power about 25 Calgary homes and is one of the largest building-based photo-voltaic installations in Canada.
The university has said it was responsible for approximately 330,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in its baseline year of 2008-09.
For more information about the University of Calgary’s Climate Action Plan, visit: