Ministry of Environment

Carbon Neutral Public Sector

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British Columbia is at the forefront of the fight against climate change and with 2010 became the first major jurisdiction in North America (possibly the world) to achieve carbon neutral operations. This means that B.C.’s entire public sector including schools, post-secondary institutions, government offices, Crown corporations and hospitals have all achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. For a quick summary, read Carbon Neutral Government Overview (PDF/1.7MB).

B.C.’s approach balances the costs of credible measurement with achieving energy savings and GHG reduction outcomes. Through engaging the public sector in conservation, we have saved money, reduced carbon pollution, and inspired our students, staff and the public to take climate action.

Carbon Neutral B.C.: A first for North America

B.C.’s public sector is officially carbon neutral, a first for any province or state in North America and an achievement that places British Columbia on the leading edge of climate action and growth in the clean energy and clean technology sectors.

To kick-start carbon neutral efforts, B.C. launched a $75 million public sector energy conservation capital fund in 2008. It has funded 247 energy projects in schools, hospitals, colleges, universities and other government buildings across the province. Once complete, those projects are expected to reduce carbon output by 36,500 tonnes, create 500 jobs and save organisations about $12.6 million in annual energy costs.

“From this point forward, every government building in our province will be carbon neutral, and that is spurring innovation in our growing clean energy and clean-tech sectors, which is helping create jobs for British Columbians,” said Environment Minister Terry Lake. “By providing capital funding for clean energy and conservation projects upfront, organisations are realising savings that can be reinvested in front-line services.”

B.C.’s carbon neutral regulation requires all public sector organisations to measure, reduce and offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings, vehicle fleets and paper use. Provincial public sector operations spent $18.2 million to offset 730,000 tonnes of GHGs in 2010, well within targets set when the carbon neutral regulation was introduced in 2007.

“In this first chapter of our carbon neutral success story we’ve shown cutting emissions creates savings and new jobs.” said Lake. “Taking a leadership role on carbon emissions has meant change and, in some cases, challenges for some organisations. The next chapter will be about working with those organisations on ways to lower their offset costs and see greater savings.”

Read the News Releases: June 30, 2011 - June 19, 2012 - June 28, 2013