Kapiti Coast District Council: a CEMARS case study
Kapiti Coast District Council is the territorial authority for its area. Council is committed to the principle of sustainable development, including protecting the environment, and seeks to manage and reduce its carbon footprint as part of this.
- CEMARS certified
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What triggered your interest in greenhouse gas emissions management?
Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC) is committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), improving the resilience of its operations and mitigating increasing energy costs. It recognises that climate change has serious implications for Kāpiti Coast District. More extreme weather and sea level rise have the potential to cause severe effects on the community, either directly or via its trading partners. KCDC began working with EECA’s EnergyWise programme in 2003, and became a member of Cities for Climate Protection New Zealand (CCP-NZ) in 2004. When the CCP-NZ ended in 2010, there remained a need for a body to oversee and independently verify Council’s progress. KCDC joined the CEMARS certification programme in 2011. The Programme fits well with KCDC’s existing plans and goals, and provides a formal framework for measuring and reporting emissions as well as our reduction and management plans.
Why does greenhouse gas management matter in the public services area?
Climate change will require adapting to issues such as increasing storm damage, flooding and sea level rise. GHG management is key in the effort to minimize our impact on the environment. As leaders in our community, Council must also show leadership in adapting to climate change and GHG management. Reducing our impact is the first stage in this process, although our ultimate goal is to have a net zero carbon footprint.
The Local Government Act, although it was amended in 2012, still has sustainable development as a guiding principle, meaning we must take into account the need to preserve the environment and the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations. What’s more, it says we must exercise prudent stewardship of resources and use them efficiently.
What have you accomplished as part of your environmental plan?
KCDC is proud to be the first local authority to be CEMARS certified. We have developed a long term plan with the intention of reducing emissions by 80% by 2021-22. At the moment, we are working on a variety of projects. For example, we have had great success in reducing our diesel emissions by converting our fuel source at the Paraparaumu Waste Water Treatment Plant. Instead of a diesel powered boiler to dry the sewage we switched to wood chip fuel. Not only did this reduce our emissions, but has reduced operating costs significantly; those savings will create a budget for other reduction projects, continuing the cycle of energy and cost savings. Our intention is for most emissions reduction projects to be self funding, using the operational cost savings they achieve. This will yield net savings for ratepayers over their life.
We are also working in the community. We have put in insulation and solar water heaters in council owned homes to improve energy efficiency. We are also looking at ways we can provide grants and assistance to homeowners. We have given away 49,000 energy efficient light bulbs, which was very popular.
What has been the key to the success of your CEMARS certification?
Top level commitment is crucial as it allows for the carbon management process to go into all parts of the business to get the data you need. Achieving CEMARS certification involved a commitment and effort to put together our emissions inventory, forecast and scope reduction projects and targets, and get approval on our plans. Through that process we created a cross-council working group to look at carbon and energy, which is chaired by a senior level manager. This allows for various aspects of Council business to efficiently identify opportunities and take action.
What is KCDC’s vision of the future?
We aim to have net zero carbon emissions, with targets to reduce emissions by 45% in 2014-15 and 80% in 2021-22. To reduce our emissions so significantly, we are working on projects like changing streetlights to LED bulbs, changing how we process sewage sludge, and making greater use of wood chip fuel. We are also working on improving the quality of our data, which will help us be more effective in managing our emissions hot spots. We hope to develop our own native forest carbon sink in the district as well, which would help with our ambition to be carbon neutral in the future.
How has your participation in the CEMARS programme assisted?
The CEMARS programme provides the framework and motivation for our plans. In the first audit, questions from the auditor brought to light our practice of putting greenwaste from sewage sludge in the landfill. We were able to make a change in practice and reduce our emissions significantly early in the process. Our working group allows us to communicate more easily, which improved the process of identifying and correcting energy and carbon issues across the Council.
The process has been extremely valuable to articulate exactly what our council’s emissions are. The third party verification and certification means we have transparency, structure, and credibility when we communicate what our emissions are and how we are managing them, Local authorities have an ever-increasing role in managing climate change impacts — so although, it is a global problem, we need to be able to demonstrate leadership in addressing the root cause of climate change.
How have your staff responded to being in the programme?
What about your ratepayers and community? The staff response has been really positive, particularly within the carbon and energy focus group. They are able to share ideas and take it really seriously. Spreading sustainability through the supply chain and procurement policy from a grassroots process is a great way to be leaders in the community.
For further information
CEMARS Certified organisations
(Certified Emissions Measurement And Reduction Scheme)
This certification is awarded to companies that are actively working to measure and manage their carbon footprint.
To achieve CEMARS certification, an organisation must measure their organisation’s full greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (also known as a carbon footprint) so they understand what their impact is on the global climate. They measure all operational emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064, including vehicles, business travel, fuel and electricity, paper, and waste. The emissions are measured annually and the inventory is independently verified to ensure it is accurate and complete. Once they have measured their footprint, the organisation must develop plans to manage and reduce their emissions continually. As part of achieving CEMARS certification, the organisation needs to achieve emissions reductions on a five year cycle.