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Corporate Commitment to Sustainability
Motivated by both a desire to leave a positive legacy for future generations, and a belief that sustainability can have a positive impact on the municipal pocketbook, for 13 years, the Town of Okotoks has worked with its residents to aim high, set an ambitious sustainability agenda, and trail blaze a path forward.
The Town of Okotoks is committed to operate its business in an economically, environmentally, fiscally and socially responsible manner, reflecting our corporate commitment towards leadership in sustainability.
Our Sustainable Corporate Initiatives:
A Renewable Energy Leader
Okotoks is the leading municipal user of renewable energy sources in Alberta. In 2004, Okotoks initiated participation in the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association's (AUMA) energy aggregate program. The Town now purchases 80% of its energy requirement for municipal infrastructure from renewable sources.
In 2004 alone, the Town reduced its conventional electrical generation by 3.8 million KWh (a CO2 emissions reduction of 1.6 million kg, equivalent to 290 cars being removed from the road) - replacing it with certified renewable energy purchased via AUMA.
"Green for Green" - An Innovation in Eco-Funding
The Town established an Eco-Efficiency Revolving Fund in 1999. The Fund uses initial grant seed investments to fund energy conservation initiatives, and applies energy consumption savings to investment in new energy conservation initiatives. The operating energy budgets remain constant; savings are diverted back to the fund until the investment is paid in full. Operation of a fund in this manner focuses tracking of energy conservation performance measurements and provides the accounting framework and initial investment pool to nurture longer-term return on investment.
The fund was initially tapped (1999) to complete a facility audit of 18 municipal facilities, energy-efficient lighting retrofits for various municipal buildings, mechanical equipment retrofits in several facilities, and expansion of recycling and composting programs. It has been more recently utilized to fund solar initiatives.
A Canadian Solar Leader
In 2001, a multi-year solar energy technologies initiative was implemented in order to lower municipal building operating costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Okotoks implemented five main solar projects:
Energy consumption reductions ranging between 15% to 80%, directly attributed to the use of solar energy, have been observed as a result of these installations.
Solar energy is a natural alternative energy source in Alberta given the province's high solar radiation capacity. The solar energy that falls on Alberta every day equals the energy available from all other non-renewable fossil fuels (coal, oil, sands and natural gas) extracted in Alberta each year - which is significant given Alberta's status as Canada's largest provincial energy producer. The sun provides more than 300 times more energy than all fossil fuels in Alberta combined.
Despite the potential of the solar energy alternative, the technology remains expensive and generally cost-prohibitive (compared to non-renewable sources). That being said, there are several reasons the Town of Okotoks has opted to incorporate solar technologies into its sustainable initiative portfolio: