City of Brandon: A PCP leader in Manitoba
This is part of a series of seven case studies that highlight members of the FCM-ICLEI Partners for Climate Protection program that have reached Milestone 5.
|Population||PCP member since||GHG reduction target|
|48,859 (2016 Census)||2005||
Corporate: 20% below 2003 levels by 2020
"I'm extremely proud of the achievements of our community with respect to environmental stewardship and climate protection led by our Environment Committee and city staff. We have appreciated the leadership and assistance provided by PCP and I would underscore the opportunities for every municipality, large and small, to enhance their efforts towards incremental environmental improvements. As municipalities we can set the tone and have measurable impacts on how our communities progress. If each of us looks after our own little corner of the world, the solution will take care of itself. "
In 2007, the City of Brandon, MB, adopted its Environmental Strategic Plan (ESP), which focuses primarily on city operations, so that Brandon could lead by example and set the standard for residents, businesses and all stakeholders. As a living document, the ESP has already been through one five-year review, and is set for its second in 2018. It is also closely linked to the goals and objectives of other municipal plans.
The Brandon Environment Committee (BEC) was formed to help with the creation of the ESP, and provides information to council and the city as the committee works through the plan's objectives.
"It's a very strong committee with stakeholders from the utilities and academic institutions, business representatives, residents and two city staff," says Lindsay Hargreaves, Brandon's Environmental Initiatives Coordinator. "It's an informal committee for council, so it gives us a little more flexibility. We do a lot of public engagement activities, and we bounce ideas off each other."
Brandon is committed to best environmental practices and to continually improving its understanding of sustainability issues. For more than 15 years, for example, the city has supplied farmers with soil conditioner and biosolids, by-products of the city's water and wastewater treatment processes that used to be sent to landfill. Potato farmers have seen crop increases since they started using the nutrient-rich biosolids. The city also recently became a participant in FCM's Leadership in Brownfield Renewal Program (LiBRe) to learn more about brownfield redevelopment.
Key projects and results
Landfill gas capture eliminates tonnes of GHGs
Brandon's Eastview Landfill already has an impressive waste diversion rate — 62 per cent of all the materials that come through the gate aren't buried — but has also reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions dramatically since installing a landfill gas capture system in 2011.
- Annual GHG emissions are reduced by 14,000 tonnes.
- Methane gas, one of the main GHG avoided through landfill gas capture, can be as much as 20 to 30 times more harmful to the atmosphere than CO2.
- Currently the gas is being flared. The city is exploring how it could use the gas as a potential revenue stream (i.e. for heating or electricity production). Initial studies show that there isn't as much gas as was anticipated, so the city will explore smaller-scale gas utilization projects.
- With landfill gas capture mandated by the Province of Manitoba, the province funded the majority of the installation.
- Landfill gas capture systems can reduce the risk of explosion from the accumulation of gas, and help to destroy dangerous pollutants.
Audits lead to upgrades
In 2007, Brandon conducted energy audits at 11 municipal facilities to determine how best to improve its energy performance and meet the city's target of reducing energy consumption by 15 per cent by 2020. The two highest energy users were the Sportsplex and city hall. Lighting retrofits, boiler replacements and weather insulation were among the first upgrades done. Improvements to other buildings are ongoing. Funding sources included capital investments, provincial funding programs, and Manitoba Hydro's energy reduction programs.
Brandon is the first community in Manitoba to reach Milestone 5 of the PCP program for both community and municipal operations. (Credit: City of Brandon)
- The lighting upgrades and boiler replacements have reduced emissions by about 54 tonnes of GHGs each year.
- Lighting upgrades save about $1,500 each year in electricity costs.
- Replacing the boiler at city hall cost $32,000, and saves more than $12,000 each year in energy costs, for a simple payback of less than three years.
- Upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems improve air quality and comfort, and lighting retrofits provide better and more direct lighting for users and staff of the facilities.
Green Cart helps get a grip on waste
Thanks to a new recycling system and an organics collection program, by 2017 Brandon had met and exceeded its waste diversion target. Brandon's Green Cart organics collection program began as a pilot in 2012 with 500 households. By 2017, more than 7,000 households were participating on a voluntary basis. The city also partnered with community groups and the province to offer a Master Composter program for residents.
- The waste diversion rate increased to 59 per cent in 2017, exceeding the original goal of 50 per cent.
- 1,900 tonnes of organics were diverted from landfill in 2016.
- Annual GHG reductions associated with the Master Composter program are estimated to be about 170 tonnes.
- As diversion rates increase, the life expectancy of landfills also increases, allowing the city to avoid the financial costs of siting and building a new landfill, which can cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
- The city's Waste Wizard lets residents quickly and easily search for information on how to recycle or otherwise safely dispose of a range of items.
- The compost produced by the organics program is used for city landscaping and is available to residents for their own gardens.
- Data accessibility. Much of the 2003 baseline data was not easy to access. Also, the data had to be input manually, which was time-consuming and more prone to error. In 2013, Brandon began using the PCP Milestone Tool, which helped to establish standardized measuring procedures, and worked with Manitoba Hydro to access all energy data for the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
- Brandon is home to one of the province's largest industrial users of natural gas. Although the city has little control over those emissions, it tracks them in its community inventory. To date, emissions from the industrial sector have decreased from one million tonnes in 2013 to 882,000 tonnes in 2017.
- Get political and senior management support. Hargreaves reports that the city's former general manager of operations understood the benefits of branding environmental initiatives (such as the One Tonne Challenge) and took every opportunity to speak with council about what the city was doing and keep them updated on progress. This helped set the tone, promote environmental awareness, and give legitimacy to the action plan.
- Don't panic! Hargreaves admits that preparing inventories and action plans can seem daunting, but more tools and resources are available now than ever before. "Peer learning through FCM has been huge for the City of Brandon," she says.
Milestone 1 - 2008 (Corporate, Community)
Milestone 2 - 2009 (Corporate, Community)
Milestone 3 - 2009 (Corporate, Community)
Milestone 4 - 2014 (Corporate, Community)
Milestone 5 - 2015 (Corporate, Community)
Green Municipal Fund: Twelve municipalities, including Brandon, received support from the Green Municipal Fund to complete Milestone 3 of the PCP Framework. The City of Brandon also received GMF support to assess environmental contamination of downtown lands slated for redevelopment.
The following resources can help on your journey to achieving Milestone 5:
Partners and collaborators
Environmental Initiatives Coordinator
City of Brandon, MB
City of Brandon, MB
Credit (first image): City of Brandon