CUPE worked with the Toronto-based company Carbonzero to track 2011 national convention carbon emissions as part of CUPE’s offsetting strategy for the event. The result was CUPE’s first carbon-neutral event.
Carbonzero is a Canadian offsetting agency that quantifies carbon emissions for organizations and then determines what level of investment in specific environmental projects would neutralize the event’s polluting effects. For convention, CUPE made an investment in a social housing retrofitting project in Montreal that replaces inefficient gas boilers, piping systems, and allows for the fuel switching of heat generation systems from natural gas to electricity.
The final emissions report determined that the national convention’s greenhouse gas emissions totalled 3,030.70 equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide. Emissions calculated all energy used at the Vancouver Convention Centre, along with all delegate, guest and staff travel to and from the convention. Because the event was held at the new west building of the Vancouver Convention Centre, which has a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating, emissions from the venue accounted for less than one per cent of total emissions. Air travel to and from Vancouver accounted for 98 per cent of emissions. Personal vehicle use and public transit use accounted for the remainder.
CUPE took additional environmental steps at the 2011 national convention to further reduce its environmental impact, such as cutting back on printing and paper use; reducing the kit contents; encouraging delegates to use public transit in Vancouver; encouraging delegates to recycle and compost waste in the Convention Centre; serving only tap water on the convention floor; and cutting back on materials and waste from the gallery. Combined with the offsetting program, these steps helped make this the greenest CUPE convention yet, helping lower CUPE’s overall carbon footprint.