Home Month and Year April 2020 Going Green

Going Green

What companies are doing to protect the environment

Southland Transportation school bus. Photo courtesy of: Pacific Western Transportation.

In a time when climate change is on the forefront of people’s minds, companies are making it a priority to promote environmental awareness and demonstrate a shared responsibility for practices, which support a healthier environment for all.

Several Calgary-based companies are making significant investments into environmental stewardship and technologies that protect the environment and Alberta’s natural resources including water quality, air, natural lands and wildlife.

Lafarge Canada Inc., a member of LafargeHolcim, aims to reduce emissions to 520 kg CO2/tonne by 2030. And they are well on their way with more than 70 per cent of this trajectory already achieved, thanks to a sizable investment in the development of low-carbon solutions, led by Lafarge’s R&D centre in Lyon, France. The company is driven by their awareness of societal development’s dependence on concrete. In fact, they project that 60 per cent of the buildings and infrastructure that humanity will need by 2050 has not yet even been constructed.

“This gives us an opportunity to make a fundamental change by leading transition towards low-carbon, recyclable and recycled models that support the circular economy,” says Jill Truscott, Lafarge’s manager of communications for Western Canada. “The most cost-effective carbon reduction will be achieved by improving the carbon efficiency of buildings and infrastructure across their life cycle.”

Truscott adds, “Until recently the focus has been on building energy consumption and now we are focused on the carbon intensity of construction materials.” She also says that Lafarge is confident they will achieve the remaining 30 per cent of their goal to reduce emissions by leveraging existing technologies including reducing the clinker content in cement, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of alternative materials and energy sources. “We also advocate for a level playing field between domestic producers and importers at a policy level to reduce the likelihood of carbon leakage.”

Technology upgrades, says Truscott, have also led to a 60 per cent reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions, a 40 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and a significant reduction in fugitive dust and noise, which comes from the plant’s equipment. She adds that Lafarge’s Exshaw plant also has achieved a zero-water discharge from its operations and emphasizes the company is not complacent or stopping there. “The facility is currently undergoing additional upgrades to allow for alternative fuel co-processing, which will further reduce the use of fossil fuels.”

On the energy front, Lafarge has investigated alternative methods in order to maximize efficiencies at its Richmond, B.C. cement plant. These methods, which produced impressive results, included a compressed air audit, fan studies and end-use assessments. Consequently, the plant upgraded their combustion and cooler systems to optimize performance leading to 15.6 gigawatt hours per day in energy savings, with the possibility of an additional 21 gigawatt hours per day of identified energy savings.

Murray Glass, Pacific Western Transportation’s vice president of student transportation, says Southland Transportation, which operates under Pacific Western, has been exploring propane as an alternative to diesel fuel for its school bus fleet since the early ’80s.

“Our propane fleet presents a sustainable solution to reducing toxic emissions and is a major step towards transitioning the transportation industry to a low-carbon economy,” says Glass. “Propane-fuelled buses are an excellent fit for the environmental mindset shift occurring in society, and they expand upon the benefits of a strong vehicle-idling policy as they warm up faster and reduce idling time.”

Glass is proud to share that Southland Transportation’s propane buses have resulted in the removal of 3,229.30 metric tons of CO2e (standard unit for measuring carbon footprint) from entering the atmosphere in 2019 alone. That, says Glass, represents the equivalent of preventing approximately 686 passenger vehicles from being driven for a year, or 3,558,246 pounds of coal being burned.

“Our propane fleets help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44 per cent compared to using diesel fuel and, unlike liquid fuels, in the event of a leak, propane becomes vapour, which does not contaminate the soil, air or aquifers. Propane emits 60 per cent less carbon monoxide than gasoline, 98 per cent less particulate matter than diesel and contains virtually no sulphur, a contributor to acid rain.

“Student transportation can be considered a mass transportation solution; thus, it is inherently environmentally friendly,” adds Glass. “In fact, a single school bus has the potential to prevent 72 school-bound vehicles from taking to the road.”

Southland Transportation boasts the largest fleet of propane-fuelled school buses in Canada with 731 buses and was a finalist for an Emerald Award in the Large Business category. The Emerald Awards recognizes companies exhibiting outstanding environmental achievements.

Also recognized for its environmental stewardship is homebuilder Jayman BUILT. President and chief operating officer Dave Desormeaux says the company sells homes in the range of $300,000 – $900,000, which can be challenging when it comes to innovation, sustainability and energy efficiency. However, over time, Jayman BUILT has been able to make standard in every home a 96 per cent high-efficiency two-stage furnace, LED lighting, triple-pane windows, high-efficiency instant hot water on-demand systems and heat-recovery ventilators, which replaces air every three hours with fresh air.

Desormeaux adds that as of 2019, all Jayman BUILT homes come standard with six solar panels. “The time was right; it made sense. Climate change was being universally acknowledged as a serious concern and the economic downturn in Alberta also made the utility/energy cost savings highly desirable by customers. Energy costs also were continuing to increase, especially electricity.”

Jayman BUILT is pleased to have entered into an exclusive agreement with Western Canada’s leading solar contractor, SkyFire Energy. “The addition of solar panels saves our customers an average of 25 per cent on electricity bills, and as electricity rates rise, future savings will as well. In 2019, based on the number of homes we sold, collectively, our homeowners are now producing 1.5 megawatts of clean electricity from our amazing bright Alberta skies through the 4,700 solar panels installed that year.”

As an added bonus, electric vehicle charging stations are now also standard in most Jayman BUILT homes. Desormeaux says charging outlets may seem premature, however, by 2021/22, the number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to increase. Electric vehicles also will have an operating cost 58 per cent less than conventional gas and diesel cars.

Calgary Stampede communications advisor Christine Thompson says she is proud of the number of programs and initiatives in place to protect the land on and around Stampede Park. “All of our paved parking lots that line the river have sediment separators and stormsceptors and storm vectors to minimize the sediment entering into the river.”

In partnership with Trout Unlimited Canada, Calgary Stampede also participates in the Yellow Fish program, which sees storm drains marked with a painted yellow fish to ensure no contaminants are entering into the river. The organization also has a rigorous spill-response program, which ensures all spills on Stampede Park are reported, monitored and cleaned up accordingly, with the intent of preventing spills from entering any storm drains, and subsequently, the river.

By investing in environmental stewardship, companies are investing in the future. “What better motivator to engage clean and sustainable transportation practices than the very children who will inherit the future? Each day, our fleet of school buses safely transports close to 100,000 students, which provides us with a constant reminder of what truly matters and what to keep at the forefront of our day-to-day operations,” says Glass.