Nova Scotia will become one of the first provinces in Canada to make a national conference carbon neutral, while helping a local charity. The innovative approach will lower the environmental impact of the Power of Green conference, which starts today, Oct. 21, in Halifax, by offsetting its greenhouse-gas emissions, and help Metro Turning Point Centre become more energy efficient and save money. “This sets the model for other conferences in the province and across the country, and we hope it will inspire similar projects,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “Charities and not-for-profits struggle with energy costs. An initiative like this provides a lasting environmental and financial legacy to deal with higher energy costs.” The Power of Green conference activities will be responsible for emitting about 50 tonnes of greenhouse gas. Instead of purchasing carbon offsets outside Nova Scotia, organizers found a local charitable project that will reduce carbon emissions by that amount. Metro Turning Point Centre will save more than $6,000 a year in heating costs after a heating system retrofit. Its greenhouse-gas emissions will be reduced by at least 25 tonnes each year, offsetting the conference level in two years. “This project will have a significant impact on the shelter,” said Bill Pratt, executive director of Saint Leonard’s Society of Nova Scotia, which operates Turning Point. “The money we save on energy costs can be put to better use delivering relevant programs to help the men we serve.” The retrofit is sponsored by the companies of the Nova Scotia Natural Gas Association. The association will replace Metro Turning Point’s oil-fired boiler and domestic hot water heating systems with a high-efficiency natural gas boiler and hot water heater. They will also replace electric residential-style clothes dyers with commercial natural gas units. “It’s a winning situation for all parties involved, especially for the shelter and the environment,” said David Corkum, president of the Nova Scotia Natural Gas Association. “We wanted to educate Nova Scotians about the environmental and financial benefits of natural gas, and this was the perfect way to profile that.” The Nova Scotia natural gas association will profile the retrofit on its website, www.nsnga.ca , to demonstrate the process of converting to natural gas. Carbon offsetting neutralizes greenhouse-gas emissions by supporting emission-reduction projects to make up for the gasses produced by a project. Building a small hydro electricity project in a developing country is one example of a carbon offset project. The difference with the Power of Green approach is that it is local. Saint Leonard’s Society of Nova Scotia is a registered charity that helps people in crisis or at risk by providing support, emergency shelter and reintegration programs. The society operates four houses in Halifax: Metro Turning Point, Sir Sanford Fleming House, Barry House and Nehiley House. The third Power of Green conference offers business, industry, policy makers and community leaders an opportunity to collaborate on how sustainability can increase competitiveness, innovation and economic growth. The conference is inspired by the province’s economic growth strategy, Opportunities for Sustainable Prosperity, a companion to the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act.
Hospice Halifax is one of the first community organizations in Nova Scotia to install a solar electricity system under the province’s Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program. When the non-profit starts producing clean, renewable energy from the 26 panels on its roof, it will be able to sell the power it generates to support its mission of providing compassionate end-of-life care to Nova Scotians. “As a not-for-profit organization, creating another revenue source and investing in long term savings are important to us,” said Gordon Neal, CEO, Hospice Halifax. “We often say, hospice is in community, for community, by community. By participating in this program, we’re also helping reduce Nova Scotia’s carbon footprint and supporting green jobs.” Dozens of other charitable organizations, Mi’kmaw bands, municipalities and academic institutions are also participating in the program. Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis announced today, June 26, on behalf of Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette that the program has reopened to applications for the third and final year. “These projects strengthen our communities by supporting important organizations like Hospice Halifax, while creating green jobs across the province,” said Mr. Kousoulis. “Solar energy projects are just part of how government is protecting the environment and building on Nova Scotia’s position as a North American leader in fighting climate change.” Over the past two years, the province has created two new solar programs – the community buildings program and the SolarHomes program. Over the same time period, solar energy use in Nova Scotia has grown by about 300 per cent. “Nova Scotia is well positioned for strong growth in residential solar,” said Lyle Goldberg, policy and regulatory affairs manager, CanSIA. “Our recent study indicates that the province could see more than 1,100 jobs in the residential solar sector by 2030 creating a sustainable industry for the long term.” Community buildings projects can be up to 75 kilowatts. Applicants propose a price per kilowatt hour for the electricity they will generate. Successful organizations will enter into a 20-year agreement with their electric utility. The impact to ratepayers is capped at 0.1 per cent, which is already built into the rate stability plan. Clean Foundation independently evaluates submissions and selects the successful projects. The application period is from June 24 to August 9. For more information visit https://www.novascotia.ca/solar/ .