Alberta innovators honoured at 12th Emerald AwardsAlberta-Pacific Forest Industries (Al-Pac) has received its second major environmental award in as many weeks, as recipient of an Emerald Award for its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction program. The Alberta Emerald Foundation presented the 12th annual awards in Calgary on June 11. Al-Pac's Emerald Award follows its selection as the winner, in the same category, of a Pollution Prevention Award from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (ELW June 16).
Al-Pac produces 600,000 tonnes of kraft pulp annually. Its mill, whose technology and environmentally advanced processes include elemental chlorine-free (ECF) bleaching systems, was designed and built to meet some of the most stringent emission standards of any jurisdiction.
Since its first full year of production in 1994, the company has cut the intensity of its direct and indirect GHG emissions by half, and reduced the amount of its absolute mill GHG emissions by 36.1%, despite increased pulp production. As a result, Al-Pac's emissions are already lower than those of many other kraft pulp mills in Canada, and the facility is working toward the goal of becoming carbon neutral through emission reductions and a poplar farming program.
Other finalists in the climate change category were the city of Calgary, for its northwest Envirosmart streetlight retrofit, and KeySpan Energy Canada, whose Brazeau River Gas Plant recently commissioned Alberta's largest acid gas re-injection facility. By re-injecting carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide into a depleted reservoir, the facility is reducing carbon dioxide
emissions associated with the gas plant and is currently achieving a 100% reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions.
In the large business category, the 2003 Emerald Award was presented to Daishowa-Marubeni International for its EMEND (Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbances) project. The purpose of this innovative forestry research is to demonstrate how fire (natural disturbance) affects the structure and function of boreal forest ecosystems and how logging and forest regeneration can best emulate these processes. EMEND also illuminates various trade-offs implicit in forestry (e.g. between biodiversity conservation and productivity) and seeks to define an optimal balance.
Using controlled burns and different harvest intensities to approximate structures left after a fire, EMEND will track forest responses over a 100-year period. In addition to guiding forestry practices through scientific research, EMEND also trains students in developing modern adaptive forest management practices and informs the public of these results. Partners from industry, academia and government have worked together to design and implement what is one of the world's largest forestry experiments.
Other finalists in the large business category included BP Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (partnership) and Newalta (cited as western Canada's best-kept environmental secret).
Mariah Energy, of Calgary, won the small business Emerald Award for its Heat PlusPower(TM) system. The technology that Mariah develops and manufactures provides on-site heat and electricity to commercial and light industrial facilities. In addition to saving customers money on utilities, these cogeneration systems benefit the environment. One 60/30 Heat PlusPower system installation alone reduced CO2 emissions by 244 tons per year, and NOx emissions by 97%, compared to traditional generation. The cumulative emission reductions achievable through application of these systems in swimming pools, recreation centres, hotels, apartment complexes, etc, are substantial.
Other small business finalists inclued Airborne Pollution Control (for its flue gas desulfurization technology), BikoGen Power Systems (for its use of livestock manure to generate electric power), and Morningside Rose Gardens, (for its "CHP" (combined heat and power) project in Lacombe, Alta).
The Alberta Research Council's (ARC) native plant development team received the Emerald Award for research and innovation in recognition of its exceptional work in developing native plant varieties for land reclamation and habitat restoration. ARC's team develops and commercializes native plant material to mitigate the environmental impact of industrial, recreational and energy-related disturbances. Native plant species provide users and growers with hardy varieties for revegetation that are low-maintenance, self sustaining and cost-effective. This research has far reaching benefits including:
*developing plant species adaptable to high-stress environments such as high elevations or poor soils;
*developing low-maintenance plants requiring little or no fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation or mowing;
*preventing soil erosion while providing wildlife cover; and
*improving Alberta's landscape by creating usable pastures, restoring habitat and diversifying agriculture crop production.
To date, the team has released nine varieties of native plants for use in various areas including abandoned coal mines, gravel pits, pipeline rights-of-way, forestry cut blocks, roadways, and ski slopes. These plant varieties are the first of their kind to be released in Canada.
The Alberta Foundation for Environmental Excellence was founded in 1991 to recognize the outstanding initiative and leadership demonstrated by Albertans addressing complex environmental challenges. The Emerald Awards were created to honour corporate, community, individual, educational, government and not-for-profit environmental excellence in Alberta.
A full list of recipients, finalists and nominees may be viewed at www.emeraldawards.com.