Sustainable Surrey: Reducing Surrey’s Ecological Footprint
Why worry about ecological footprint? • Large ecological footprints and carbon footprints are direct indicators of wasteful and unsustainable consumption. • We as youth need to build a sustainable society because an unsustainable society (or system) can soon become chaotic and dangerous to live in. • Ecological and carbon footprint are directly related to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. • Scientists have been warning of “tipping points” where runaway changes could commence due to global warming, so we need to act fast.
What is ecological footprint? A measure of humanity’s demand on Earth’s resources. Measured in global hectares (1gha = 10,000m2) per capita An ecological footprint has many components
Water footprint is another component, measuring the amount of water we consume directly and indirectly. “Virtual water” is used to refer to the water consumed in production of the goods and services that we buy.
Why reduce ecological footprint and carbon footprint in Surrey? Surrey is a dynamic, diverse community and an important part of British Columbia and Canada, with a rapidly growing population. Canada is a rich country, part of the G8, and is a ‘developed country’, aiming to be a responsible global citizen of the world. Canada also has a major historical responsibility, as seen in the following two graphs:
Why reduce ecological footprint and carbon footprint of Surrey? Canada has the 8thlargest ecological footprint per capita in the world, according to WWF's Living Planet Report 2012. Ecological footprint of the average Canadian: 7.5 global hectares annually Carbon footprint of the average Canadian: 22.5 tonnes CO2 equivalent, per year. (Canada is within the top 5 or top 10 in the world as per various rankings!) Global average footprint: 2.4 hectares per person, as of 2003 Available footprint: 1.8 hectares per person, without taking into account the needs of other wild species. Our target footprint: 1 hectare per person
Ecological Footprint per person, per country (2003) USA Canada in comparison to the rest of the world: Canada The red line is the amount of land available per person: 1.8 hectares 1.8 hectares/person is without taking into account the needs of wild species Germany Therefore the real value available per person would be much lower Japan 2003 global footprint
Project goal: Drastically reduce the ecological footprint of our community and move closer to sustainable levels of consumption without causing a noticeable drop in quality of life. Our group hopes to take action to reduce Canada’s per capita footprint by starting in our own backyard: Surrey. We aim to reduce Surrey’s ecological footprint over the course of a year, with various campaigns that tackle the different components of our footprint. Some of our initiatives are taken at home by our volunteers and their families. Some of our campaigns will be to urge public and commercial businesses to reduce their footprints by taking action to reduce their electricity consumption, waste production, etc. The progress of our various campaigns will be tracked on a website, SustainableSurrey, where citizens can create accounts for their households and enter data to track their progress as they make changes in their lifestyle to reduce their ecological footprint. We hope to start a friendly competition among individual neighbourhoods, schools, and especially businesses in reducing their footprints.
Project components: • Estimation of ecological footprint • Citywide surveys • Monitoring building energy use, commercial, residential and public • Transportation • Food and diet • Lifestyle activities • The project will be tracked and documented on our website, SustainableSurrey, and there will also be a monthly electronic newsletter circulated in Surrey to showcase the project’s successes, and to commend the efforts of individual households, public institutions and businesses that have made significant reductions in their footprints. Estimation of current ecological footprint Our volunteers’ first task will be to enlist their families, friends and relatives to participate in this year-long project. They will then estimate their ecological footprints using the various online footprint calculators that will be posted on the SustainableSurrey website.
Building energy conservation Demand for electricity is set to grow with more industries, switching to public transportation, and more electric vehicles. Therefore, conserving electricity is of crucial importance. It is important to get real time information bout electricity and gas consumption and their carbon footprint or as close to it as possible. 2.41 kWh saved = 1km travelled by a Skytrain car with 30 passengers on board; or 1 person travelling by Skytrain for 30km. Commercial building energy conservation (overlighting, overheating, open freezers in supermarket aisles, escalators running non-stop with no one on them(!), and some offices even use air conditioning(!) Home energy conservation
Volunteers will enter their electricity and natural gas meter readings into the SustainableSurrey website, where their electricity and natural gas consumption will be tracked for the year. Previous years’ consumption data will be used as a baseline to evaluate success of our campaign. Below is an example of a year long meter reading graph:
Transportation The number of cars, SUVs, and large flashy trucks driven like cars, seem to be increasing on Surrey roads every year. There are virtually no commuter trains in Surrey, and there are only 4 Skytrain stations south of the Fraser river(!!!), terminating on one end of surrey. All new Skytrain extensions seem to be taking place north of the Fraser river in Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and Coquitlam. Surrey is lagging behind even Vancouver in transit use, carpooling biking and walking. Surrey needs to not only catch up, but go further beyond!
Food and Diet: “Livestock and their by-products actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.” - Livestock and Climate Change, by the WorldWatch Institute Any significant reduction in consumption of meat and dairy will lead to major decrease in GHG emissions and deforestation. One of our campaigns will be a Meatless Monday initiative, to urge participants in the project to refrain from consuming animal products on just one day of the week, and eventually increase the number of days. The combined effect of this campaign will have significant cuts in the city’s carbon footprint. Using recent research data in nutrition, dietetics, health and statistical data from epidemiological studies (such as “The China Study”), it can be shown that switching to a partially or predominantly vegan diet can also improve people’s health. This will be an educational/informative component of our campaign.
Waste Reduction: • Our products contain a lot of packaging, disposable material and almost a total lack of repairing, mending or reuse. • Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world, but with a very small population, and yet, we are running out of landfill space and even shipping south of the border to the USA! • Our waste reduction campaign will involve the following initiatives: • Contact local restaurants and fast food chains that use disposable packaging and plates to convert to reusable plates and cutlery. This will require more labour, but it can also be an opportunity to create new jobs. • Install compost bins in each high school to reduce cafeteria waste. • Urge participants in the project to purchase items that can be reused, contain little packaging.
Lifetstyle: This includes entertainment such as sports, vacations, etc. Each of these activities leave their own ecological and carbon footprint. This will mainly be an educational campaign to make people more aware of the impact of their lifestyle choices. In the next slide, we have made some sample calculations that show the carbon emissions that result from a single football game at BC Place Stadium. Our volunteers will use statistics and figures like this in an awareness campaign to encourage Surrey’s citizens to be conscious of their choices, and even make alternative lifestyle choices that have a smaller ecological impact.
Carbon emissions of a football game at the BC Place Stadium: Assume 60,000 fans attend the game. 50% of them came by car (average 30 km round trip), with 3 people per car 25% by bus 25% by SkyTrain (average distance 12 km & 30 km round trip). Assume zero emissions for SkyTrain and trolley buses. 30,000 fans/3per car = 10,000 cars. Assume average gas mileage as 12.5 km/litre 2.4 litres/car for the trip 24,000 litres of gasoline Since 1 litre of gasoline produces 2.5 kg of CO2, emissions from cars =60,000 kg CO2. Assume 50 people of the visiting team (players, coaches, assistants, etc.) fly in from Toronto. Assuming WestJet economy class and a direct flight, emissions for round trip = 50 x 692kg = 34,600 kg CO2 So, total for transportation alone: 94,600 kg CO2. And that’s without electricity, natural gas, propane gas, etc. used at the stadium!
Division of 100,000 hours 100,000 hours. 400 students. 19 high schools. 12 months. Each school in Surrey will have a committee of 20-22 students, working 5 hours a week for 50 weeks. Each committee will have smaller teams focusing on each of the campaigns we have outlined, throughout the year. Each student will have to enlist their family members, friends, neighbours and relatives to work together to achieve their target in each campaign. Each student or family can create an account on our website, SustainableSurrey, where they will first be able to estimate their ecological and carbon footprints. They will then begin to enter in their own data over the following year to track their consumption in various categories. This data includes their diet, electricity and gas meter readings, driving and commute information, etc. At the end of the year, each volunteer will estimate their ecological and carbon footprints again as well as those they had enlisted, to see what improvements they have made. The next slide shows the timetable for our project:
We have modeled our project on several community-wide programs and experiments that have resulted in great success: Model Programs: Village on a Diet In this program, citizens of a town in BC joined together to lose a metric tonne of weight over the course of several months. Individuals and families competed against each other for most weight lost, which would be similar to our friendly competition of most energy use reduction, waste reduction, etc. Businesses and companies also competed against each other, which is one of our goals as well. In the end, this friendly competition resulted in benefit for the whole town. One Tonne Challenge The One Tonne Challenge was a project initiated by the Canadian government in 2004 that urged Canadian families to reduce their carbon footprint by making small lifestyle changes, for a cumulative reduction of one tonne of CO2. We believe this was a good challenge, but not quite ambitious enough. Biggest Loser This is another show that uses friendly competition that results in benefits for the whole group. Meatless Mondays A movement started to encourage people to skip eating meat just one day of the week, for the positive health benefits. During World War I, meatless Mondays were promoted by the government to ration food. We believe a similar initiative to cut down on consuming animal products would be highly effective in significantly reducing GHG emissions.
Budget: As our project is local, we will have no travel, lodging or food expenses. However, we will require some supplies and materials in order to implement our various community initiatives and campaigns. SustainableSurrey Website: $1000 for professional website, and year-round maintenance. Compost bins for waste reduction in schools: $50 x 2 per school x 19 schools: $1900 Media and public relations budget for education campaigns: $2000 Total: $4900
Indicators of Success: • After our one year project, families can check their progress on our website. • They can compare their energy meter reading graph of the past year with previous years to see how much of a reduction they have made. • Schools, and other public buildings can also check their progress on various initiatives. For example, for waste reduction, they can compare the amount of waste they produce currently with the original amount of waste. • Volunteers and families will re-estimate their ecological and carbon footprints using online calculators, and the results of all the families will be compiled and presented in a year-end report. • Our main indicator of success will lie in the individual lifestyle changes made by our volunteers and recruits, which will have a cumulative effect, and significantly lower ecological and carbon footprint.
Beyond 100,000 hours: Reducing Surrey’s ecological footprint is only the beginning. We hope that with the success of the project, Surrey can set an example in Canada, and in all developed nations, that a community can come together to make significant reductions in their ecological footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. After the project, we hope that the idea will catch on in other cities around Canada, and North America.