FortisBC’s climate action partners: meet Penny Page-Brittin
October 11, 2022
The Climate Action Partners Program works with local governments and organizations throughout BC to help achieve our shared climate action goals. It funds climate action projects, or a dedicated employee, to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency and foster more affordable energy solutions in their community.
Here's how Penny Page-Brittin, community energy specialist with the City of Delta is taking climate action for her community.
Why did you get involved with the Climate Action Partners Program?
I kind of fell into working in climate action, and I’m really glad I did.
My background and initial training is in genetics and molecular biology. I have a Bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University in molecular biology.
In 2007 I moved to Revelstoke with my partner and children for my partner’s job and because we wanted to raise our children in the wilderness of beautiful BC. There weren’t a ton of options working in genetics in Revelstoke at the time so I began working with Revelstoke Bear Aware. Two years later I landed an opportunity with the municipality to work on solid waste management and other environmental issues.
My work with the municipality lasted almost 10 years, working on a huge range of environmental sustainability and environmental issues surrounding solid waste and climate action. I developed the corporate emission inventory and action plan and had the opportunity to present to council on that and a number of other issues. In doing so, I learned the policy side of climate action – the considerations the public often won’t know about and how government, policy and the needs of the community all come together. At around the same time, BC adopted the climate action plan (CleanBC) and the climate action charter for municipalities, which was an important catalyst for my work.
Over the 12 years I spent in Revelstoke, I saw the impacts of climate change firsthand – glaciers in the area melting, large storm events, changes to freeze-thaws impacting snow removal, hotter and smokier summers, increased snow loads on roofs and more. Climate action really became my passion.
When we moved to the Lower Mainland, I completed the Sustainable Energy Management Program at BCIT and sought dedicated climate action work where I could make a difference at the community level. When I learned about this role through the City of Delta, I saw an opportunity to continue to work on helping people reduce their individual greenhouse gas emissions and use energy more efficiently, while mitigating climate impact for a community as a whole. It was a perfect fit for me.
Can you share more about your work as a community energy specialist?
I joined this role with the City of Delta in May 2021 and I’m really proud of how much we’ve accomplished.
We’re currently working on updating our community energy and emissions plan. This plan allows us to take a hard look at our community and evaluate what moves we need to make to reduce emissions quickly, affordably and safely, while helping citizens use their energy more efficiently. In order to best understand the needs of the community, we need to engage and consult with residents so we created a “Let’s Talk Delta” project page. This webpage has surveys to help us understand how much our citizens know about energy and climate change, sections on educating what community members can do to reduce their emissions, how we as a whole community could take action in solid waste, buildings and transportation and more. We have even included a digital survey in Punjabi and Chinese.
I really like how vast my work is in this role. I am also supporting the City to prepare new buildings to align with the BC Energy Step Code and addressing energy use and emissions from municipal buildings within the City as well.
I’m a huge advocate of active transportation. I live in Vancouver but make my way to Delta using various forms of transportation – walking, running, biking, busing, SkyTrain and sometimes even a bike shuttle trailer. One of my goals is to advance active transportation in the community.
What are the benefits of this work to the City of Delta?
Climate change is very real, and last year alone served as a reminder to all of us of what a changing climate looks like – the heat dome, the flooding and that wildfire season. The work I do for the City of Delta supports the City’s climate action goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy and also saving the citizens money as we keep affordability top of mind. Everyone needs to do their part, and I like to think I’m doing mine for my adopted community of Delta.
FortisBC and the provincial and federal government are all providing funding and support to advance this work, and I’ve got a tremendous amount of support from my fellow climate action partners as well. And that’s the real benefit to this program. Municipalities can be short on resources and the Climate Action Partners Program provides the ability to leverage additional resources. It’s difficult for municipalities to implement climate action without funding, but you also need expertise at the table. You need to learn from those who have done it before to help you get started, avoid challenges and help fast-track your learning. Collaboration is key to successful, pragmatic and affordable climate action initiatives.
For me, I’m very fascinated by buildings and their systems. Whether it’s a new building or an aging one, there are ways to build and retrofit them better, make them more energy efficient and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Through the Climate Action Partners Program I’m here and helping the City do the things they want to do, but don’t have the resources for on their own. I’m always on the lookout for programs, financial resources and other opportunities to support the City’s climate action goals.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I feel privileged to be able to work on interesting initiatives and projects that help advance climate action within Delta. And just as much, it’s been so exciting to get to know a unique and diverse community like Delta which has urban and multicultural regions in North Delta, and at the same time rural and agricultural regions around Ladner and Tsawwassen. On my trip to work I bike or bus through different environments through the city, going from dikes to farmers’ fields. Perhaps my favourite part is that calming duck pond around Delta’s City Hall – a great place to have lunch.
But the thing I want to say most is how much I appreciate the climate action partner network. Nothing happens without collaboration. Each municipality is unique, but they each have similar climate action goals. Corporate buildings can have different needs but they are common in their need to be more energy efficient. All the work we’ve done over the past year, I’m constantly emailing the other climate action partners to ask questions, learn from their work and share ideas.
Connect with us to learn more about being a climate action partner
Our climate action partners are part of a community of like-minded organizations that are working to advance a lower-carbon future, through the roles that communities and utilities play as identified in the Province’s CleanBC Roadmap. We encourage any local governments and organizations that share these values to connect with our climate action partners team to discuss how we can tackle climate action together.