In 2007, West Coast Air president and CEO Rick Baxter decided it was time for the company to take action on climate change. He wanted to go beyond simply improving recycling programs in administrative offices and choosing environmentally responsible supplies and materials.
With the biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions coming from the fuel used in the fleet of 17 de Havilland Twin Otter and Beaver aircraft, Baxter knew West Coast Air had to take a more comprehensive and material approach to a carbon management program.
After some research, he enrolled the company in Climate Smart, a program aimed at small and mid-sized enterprises that helps to measure and reduce GHG emissions. In addition to measuring GHG emissions, Climate Smart also helped identify areas for potential emissions reductions.
Two years after this journey started, West Coast Air is now officially carbon neutral.
In addition to choosing low-impact electricity from Bullfrog Power, the team at West Coast Air identified and carried out reduction actions. Despite those best efforts, like all businesses, all emissions couldn’t be eliminated. So, for those that remain, an offset plan was developed in conjunction with Pacific Carbon Trust.
We are a regional airline that transports thousands of small business owners every year, so we feel we have a responsibility to help to educate our peers about the importance of reducing our collective carbon emissions and the business opportunities associated with it.
We’re doing this by sharing our story – including the challenges and lessons learned – with other organizations in B.C. and by engaging our direct business partners in carbon reduction strategies. We are also enhancing our community investments, employee engagement and customer education programs to reduce the climate impacts of our operations.
Sustainable Initiatives at West Coast Air
At West Coast Air, we consistently look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and enhance our relationships with the people who live and work in the communities in which we operate.
We’re proud to embed sustainable initiatives across our organization. Here are just a few of our accomplishments.
- We’ve improved the efficiency of our aircraft engines by enhancing our maintenance program. This action represents the largest portion of our overall emissions reductions.
- We’ve improved passenger capacity, scheduling and routing of flights by managing our load factor to the highest possible efficiency. That means ensuring flight schedules balance the needs of passengers while offering the greatest efficiency in routes, capacity, flight path and flying altitude.
- We’ve choosing low-impact renewables. We signed on with Bullfrog Power in 2009, opting to use electricity that comes from low-impact, EcoLogo™-certified green generation sources.
- We’ve reducing and eliminating waste. We have made substantial improvements in our waste management programs. These include choosing reusable products, composting, enhancing recycling programs, and eliminating or diverting large volumes of waste from local landfills.
- We’ve choosing environmentally-responsible options whenever possible. We opt for products that are biodegradable or minimize the use of harsh chemicals, are made from recycled materials, or are more energy efficient. This includes items like cleaning and paper products, lights and fixtures, and de-icing solution for our planes.
- We’ve changing habits around the workplace. All West Coast Air employees are encouraged to optimize the resources they use during the workday. That means we carpool, take transit, cycle or walk to work; we turn off lights when a room is not in use; we turn down thermostats and shut off computers at night; we print double-sided and favour reusable containers, glasses, cutlery and coffee mugs.
Carbon Neutrality Takes Flight
In January, Pacific Carbon Trust became the exclusive supplier of offsets to West Coast Air. An offset is an activity or set of activities that reduce, reuse or sequester greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions like carbon dioxide and methane from the atmosphere.
This agreement not only helps us to become completely carbon neutral, but it also allows us to provide carbon neutral flights to all of our customers. West Coast Air passengers do not have to make a decision to offset their individual flights, nor pay a premium to do so; flights are automatically offset through Pacific Carbon Trust.
Established under the B.C. government’s Climate Action Plan, Pacific Carbon Trust is a Crown corporation with a mandate to deliver quality B.C.-based greenhouse gas offsets that help clients meet their carbon reduction goals. West Coast Air will purchase up to 6,500 tonnes of offsets per year from Pacific Carbon Trust. The money from those offsets will be put toward carbon reduction initiatives and programs across the province.
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