Many of Saskatchewan's sectors, ministries, agencies, and Crown corporations are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and protecting the environment.
Agricultural Sector is Reducing Emissions
- Saskatchewan reduces GHG emissions through world leadership in progressive agricultural practices that help protect the environment. This includes Improvements in farming practices, such as such as zero-till, fertilizer use, addition of pulses into crop rotations and improved livestock feeding practices.
- Zero-till farming, pioneered in Saskatchewan, allows farmers to conserve moisture and continuous crop. This not only prevents wind and water erosion but also allows more carbon to be sequestered in the soil as organic matter is built up. Saskatchewan agricultural soils sequestered about 11.4 million tonnes of carbon in 2014. Additionally, Saskatchewan has almost 12 million acres of native pasture land that also sequesters, or stores, carbon.
- With annual sales of $1 billion, the agriculture machinery sector is the largest component of Saskatchewan's manufacturing sector. This is largely due to the manufacturing of no-till equipment; technology critical to building organic matter and sequestering or storing carbon in the soil.
- The addition of pulses to crop rotations has had a significant impact on the reduction of GHG emissions.
- Saskatchewan exports nearly $4 billion worth of pulses and is home to the nation's largest pulse crop breeding program.
- Pulses contribute to a sustainable food system because they require little to no nitrogen fertilizer.
- In Saskatchewan, without pulse production our agricultural emissions would be about two million tonnes higher annually.
- GHG emissions from beef cattle have declined due to improved genetics and better feeding and management practices.
- In 2011, only 71 per cent of the Canadian beef breeding herd was required to produce the same amount of meat as in 1981.
- From 1981 to 2011, methane emissions declined by 14 per cent, nitrous oxide emissions by 15 per cent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 12 per cent.
- From 2000 to 2015, 80 research projects aimed at mitigating GHG emissions were supported through Saskatchewan's Agriculture Development Fund (Growing Forward 2 program), a total investment of about $11 million.
- Agriculture's action plan includes ongoing support for the Crop Development Centre and the Global Institute for Food Security, as well as investments in the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence. These world-class organizations are working to develop solutions that reduce GHG emissions and help farmers adapt to a changing climate.
- The Ministry of Agriculture oversees environmental programming in the province intended to improve producer and public understanding about the potential impact of agriculture on the environment.
- The forestry sector is another critical carbon sink – a natural reservoir that stores carbon. Over the past 40 years, forests have absorbed about 25 per cent of carbon emitted by human activity.
Ministry of Central Services is Building Green
- The Ministry of Central Services ensures all new construction projects are built as part of a nationally-recognized environmental building certification program called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). These business designs include LED lighting, energy-efficient windows, the use of solar thermal technology to heat water, and co-generated electricity which simultaneously produces electrical and heat energy from one fuel source.
- As of January 2017, Central Services achieved LEED certification for six facilities:
- Regina Correctional Centre
- Cooper Place, Regina
- Saskatchewan Disease Control Lab, Regina
- Meadow Lake Court House
- Pine Grove Correctional Centre, Prince Albert
- Regina Century Plaza
- An additional three facilities have been designed to comply with LEED standards:
- Prince Albert Correctional Centre
- Prince Albert Correctional Centre Food Services
- North Battleford Hospital
- Since 2008, 41 new schools in Saskatchewan have been designed and built to meet or exceed LEED standards. These new schools use approximately 30 to 40 per cent less energy compared to those built prior to 2008.
- In many existing schools, building automation systems which regulate the heating and cooling systems realize between 12 and 20 per cent energy savings.
- LEED buildings have reported 20 per cent lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings, and green building retrofits typically decrease operation costs by almost 10 per cent each year.
- All LEED school projects, as well as many existing schools, include recycling rooms and programs, reducing the strain on landfills by thousands of tons each year in Saskatchewan.
- All of Saskatchewan's public-private partnerships (P3) buildings are built to a LEED silver standard and offer innovative green technology.
- P3s have innovative green technology such as:
- Cogeneration electrical systems. The new Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford uses gas or propane to generate on-site electrical power, using the heat from the generator to warm the building. It will reduce the hospital's overall electrical consumption.
- Roof construction. The Meadows (Swift Current long-term care centre) has a roof built with "solatubes" to conserve energy. Pieces of the roof collect and direct light inwards, increasing natural light for residents and automatically dimming artificial lighting.
- The Ministry of Central Services also operates 41 buildings that are recognized by BOMA Building Environmental Standards, the industry benchmark for properties managed in an environmentally-sustainable manner. These buildings consume 17.5 per cent less energy on average than all buildings in Canada (national average).
- In 1994, the average home in Saskatchewan used 140 Gigajoules (GJs) of natural gas annually. Today, that has fallen to 103 GJ/year. In 1994, when SaskEnergy's customer base included 259,000 homes, those customers used slightly more natural gas than SaskEnergy's 345,000 residential customers today.