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Partners for Climate Protection

Resort Municipality of Whistler, BC

Milestone Five

Population PCP member since GHG reduction target
9,824 1997
  • Corporate target of 10% by 2010, 20% by 2013, and 30% by 2015, relative to 2007 levels.
  • Community target of 33% by 2020, 80% by 2050, and 90% by 2060, relative to 2007 levels.

Exterior photo of the Lost Lake PassivHaus in Whistler

Looking ahead, the key challenge for Whistler will be maintaining the rate of reduction achieved over the first years of its commitment period as further 'one-time changes' (such as natural gas conversions and landfill capture projects) are, for the most part, no longer readily available. To remain on target, additional, incremental reductions of 3,300 tonnes of CO2e-about 3.5% per year-will be required every year for the remainder of the decade.
2013 Whistler Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Performance Trends

 

As a tourism-based mountain town, Whistler has a special dependence on stable snow and weather patterns and has long been concerned with climate change. These concerns led them to join the PCP program in 1997. This commitment to sustainability has translated into a series of GHG reducing projects and initiatives, as well as to the development of Whistler 2020, its integrated community sustainability plan. In 2007, Whistler became the first municipality in Canada to complete all five PCP milestones for both corporate and community emissions.

Total community GHG emissions in 2013 were estimated to be 109,657 tonnes (CO2e), about 17.5 per cent lower than 2007 levels, 23 per cent lower than 2000 and 1.3 per cent below 2012 levels. Reductions were the result of changes to waste management practices, a switch to natural gas from piped propane, and introducing a hydrogen fuel cell bus pilot project. On a per capita level, Whistler's community GHG emissions are 18 per cent lower than they were in 2007 and the lowest they have been since detailed record keeping began in 2000.

The municipality has received support from FCM's Green Municipal Fund to aid in the construction of the Whistler Public Library, as well as funding for several other projects.

Key projects and results

Meadow Park Sports Centre Retrofit

Whistler's Meadow Park Sports Centre had the highest energy cost per square foot and the greatest annual GHG emissions footprint of all its municipal buildings. The building was retrofitted in 2009, which included installing evacuated tube solar technology that uses solar panels to heat domestic water loads and a vertical loop geo-exchange bore field that draws heat from the ground for the building's two pools and hot tub.

Environmental

  • GHG emissions reduced by 477 tonnes, roughly 20% of the municipality's corporate emissions
  • 70‒75% of pool heating load and 30-35% of domestic hot water load is met by the new renewable energy systems  

Economic

  • Energy costs have dropped by almost 40% - from $340,000 in 2009 to less than $210,000 in 2012
  • On a total investment of $910,000, the return on investment is $110,000-$130,000 per year, for a payback period of 6-8 years   

Social

  • Provides a public educational opportunity for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability

Lost Lake PassivHaus

Constructed to host the Austrian Olympic Committee during the 2010 Olympic Games, the Lost Lake PassivHaus is based on the European "passive house" model and results in up to 90 per cent less energy consumption than traditionally built homes and approximately 50 per cent less energy than a LEED Platinum certified house. To qualify as a passive house, a building can use no more than 15 kilowatt hours per square metre per year for heating and cooling. Key features include insulation that is three to four times thicker than most Canadian homes, and south-facing triple-paned windows.

Environmental   

  • Emits less than one tonne of CO2e per year
  • Indoor temperatures are maintained without a conventional furnace

Economic

  • Energy costs are approximately $300 annually for the 250-square metre building
  • Whistler invested $300,000 for site servicing and preparation and the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation provided $150,000 toward a total $1.5 million project cost

Social

  • A real-life example of commitment to sustainable building principles
  • Introduces European 'passive house' concept and its associated benefits to Canadian public
  • Helped provide local capacity and experience for green building practices

Whistler Compost Facility

Whistler's compost facility composts biosolids from its wastewater treatment plant, residential and commercial food waste, and wood waste. The facility also began taking dog waste, in compostable bags, in 2014. The fully enclosed composter diverts waste from the landfill, effectively treats Whistler's biosolids, provides an opportunity for businesses and residents to compost food waste, and produces a number of high-quality soil amendments for sale.  

Environmental

  • Annual CO2 emissions reduced by approximately six tonnes
  • Waste diversion reduced from 600 kilograms per person in 2009 to 456 kilograms per person in 2012 (56%) 
  • 2014 diversion rate is estimated  at 389 tonnes     

Economic 

  • Total operating cost is approximately $1.8 million or $143 per tonne, compared to $154 per tonne paid by the municipality to dispose of garbage
  • For 2014, Whistler estimates a net savings of $172,000 on program costs of $50,000 per year
  • If Whistler meets its 80% diversion target by 2030, estimated yearly savings will reach $685,000   

Social 

  • Residents who don't or can't compost at home can purchase finished compost at $35 per cubic yard
  • Large-scale composting reduces waste to landfill and methane emissions


Challenges

  • Future GHG reductions must be premised on energy conservation and increased efficiency rather than on one-time technological or system changes.
  • Maintaining 2020 target levels included in Whistler's Official Community Plan will require additional GHG reduction initiatives.

Lessons learned

  • Communicating the financial messages to the community is critical and strong financial numbers make the message even more compelling as energy prices continue to rise.
  • As a result of its membership in PCP, Whistler began reporting annually on energy, GHG and costs at the community and corporate levels.
  • Annual workshops with each municipal department are used to review annual performance, set goals and evaluate future reduction initiatives. 

Page Updated: 17/09/2015