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Colin Gilboy
Junior Member
Username: colin

Post Number: 2
Registered: 09-2005
Posted on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - 06:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Global Warming and the Kyoto Treaty
By William Buchholz, AIA, CCS, LEED AP

(This article is the first in a series to look at the issue of global warming and what can be done about it.)


During our recent summer vacation to the Canadian Rockies, my wife and I wondered why we did not see any SUVs in the parks we stayed in. Upon asking a park ranger, we were shocked to find out that SUVs were banned from staying overnight in any Canadian national park! This was the Canadian government's way of discouraging gas-guzzling 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Canadians are very concerned about what global warming is doing to their country: warmer and shorter winters; melting permafrost in the north; declining water levels in lakes and rivers; polar bear populations in rapid decline because they are unable to find food; indigenous peoples traveling farther to find food; glaciers - their jewel of the Rockies in rapid retreat; and more extreme weather events such as droughts, ice storms, and floods. (See www.climatechange.gc.ca)

Canada is a signatory of the Kyoto Treaty, the international agreement to address climate disruption, which became law on February 16 of this year for the 141 countries that have ratified it to date. (www.washingtonpost.com) For 38 of the countries with the most advanced economies, the Treaty sets binding legal commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.

Everywhere we visited we saw evidence of Canadians' efforts to save energy and reduce emissions. The hotels and motels that we stayed in had energy-efficient lighting throughout, low-flow shower heads, 1.6 gallon/flush or lower toilets, environmental purchasing policies, and recycling programs for trash.

Restaurants and cafeterias used washable plates, silverware, and cloth napkins in lieu of paper and plastic. Most restrooms used hot air dryers in lieu of paper towels; some had waterless urinals in the men's rooms. At one popular stop-off in Jasper National Park, there was a completely self-contained restroom building with solar panels for powering lights, water supply pumps, and wastewater filtration and treatment.

One building, the Columbia Icefield Visitor Center, completed in 1996, was built with all the features one would expect to find in a LEED Gold or Platinum building: water conservation and on-site treatment and recycling, on-site power generation and energy conservation, recycling and waste reduction, light pollution reduction, sound pollution reduction, and protection for flora and fauna. They even require every delivery truck to take all boxes and packaging back after unloading, forcing suppliers to rethink their use of packaging.

In the personal area, the Canadian government is promoting a program called the One-Tonne Challenge. The government estimates that all individuals in Canada collectively generate approximately 28 percent of Canada's total greenhouse gasses (GHGs). This averages over 5 tons of GHGs per person. Half of this is due to passenger road transportation and the other half is residential use. They are encouraging each individual to reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent or one ton.

The government has quantified how much GHGs can be saved from specific actions. For example, each of the following items counts for approximately 1/2 ton (500 kg) of GHG savings: driving 10 percent less; driving at posted speed limits (60 mph); buying the most fuel-efficient vehicle; installing an energy-efficient furnace; using EnergyStar appliances; upgrading windows, doors, insulation, weatherstripping, and sealants; and buying green power where available.

Other items on the list are given less weight, but add to the total. They offer tax incentives for big ticket items like replacing an old furnace with a newer energy-efficient model. For more information, see the Canadian government's environmental website: (www.climatechange.gc.ca)

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