Introducing Waste and Water Reduction Targets
September 21, 2016 | Sustainable Waterloo Region
Today’s Regional Sustainability Initiative blog is exciting because we are sharing some details about membership in the program and the new target areas.
One of the significant evolutions in the Regional Sustainability Initiative is that members can now set reduction targets in waste and water, as well as the carbon targets that were available in the RCI.
How Membership Works
In the Regional Sustainability Initiative, members move through a four milestone process that works towards real action and reductions of impact. The milestones are:
For pledging members, there are target levels depending how much the member has committed to reduce over a 10 year period. Those levels are as follows:
What Members are Doing
For some of our members, these new target areas will mean big change. Others are choosing to stick to carbon. We are happy to announce that AET is our first, and so far only, member to be setting targets in all three areas. AET is a gold pledging member in both waste and water, and silver in carbon. They wanted to give themselves a competitive edge, and environmental reporting is a great way for them to do that. Especially which such impressive targets.
Others are choosing to focus more on one area. Wilfrid Laurier University has been doing a lot already in terms of waste management because they are such a large institution with a lot of waste. They know waste is an area of focus for them, and they want people to see they are working to make it better. They have therefore set a silver waste reduction target.
The Church of St. John the Evangelist is another member who is participating in these new target areas. After being part of a REEP stormwater project, they had a better understanding of the importance of water conservation. They want to become more knowledgeable on water conservation to position themselves as a community leader, which is why they have seta silver water reduction target.
How Reduction Targets are Calculated
In order for members to be able to reduce their impact, they have to be able to measure their current carbon footprint, waste diversion rates, and/or water footprint. From there, they can make changes and measure to see if they reached their target. In this section, there are details about how each type of impact is calculated.
Calculating a carbon footprint is pretty straightforward. The Regional Sustainability Initiative team and the member work together to create a greenhouse gas inventory (GHG) by uploading electricity and natural gas utility bills into the Energy and Sustainability System. This software calculates the associated emissions and creates a baseline of data, from which a reduction target can be established.
Organizations have an impact on water in 3 major ways:
- Water consumed – The water that comes out of your pipes
- Water sanitation – The water that goes into the wastewater system
- Storm water balance – The water that flows off your property and into sewers
The Regional Sustainability Initiative team and the member create a water inventory by uploading water utility bills and any stormwater credits into the Energy and Sustainability System. The amount of impervious or hard surface surrounding the organization’s space is also considered, and all of this information is inputted into the WRSI calculation. A water inventory is created and a baseline is established with a recommended target.
Waste diversion is the amount of waste that is diverted from landfill to recycling or green bins. To establish a waste baseline, organizations can complete a waste audit internally or have their waste management service provider complete one. For organizations doing an internal audit, the equation to use is:
Like the others, a baseline is established and a reasonable reduction target can be set.
We are happy to see members already adopting the new targets, and can’t wait to see the change that happens over the next few years. Tomorrow the blog will focus more on our collaboration with B Corp, and it will highlight some of the great things our members are already doing. Stay tuned!