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Energy and carbon reducing frameworks for government

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/20/12 @ 12:00pm  |  Posted in Clean energy, Climate

Cuyahoga County Council's Environment & Sustainability Committee introduced legislation in March, 2012 that would establish an energy reduction goal for county buildings, and support the local, clean energy market. If approved, the county will sign on to the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Building Challenge, and make all municipal buildings and facilities 20% more energy efficient by 2020.

Presumably, the county will add its new headquarters to the 1.6 billion square feet of space committed to Better Buildings.

What other energy and carbon reduction frameworks are cities and counties considering?

Some municipal governments in Ohio started off measuring energy use as a pathway to reduction. For example, in Youngstown and Akron, city officials added up all energy consumption- industrial, commercial and residential-and their green house gas emissions in order to establish a starting point for energy reduction goals.

Analyzing a city's carbon footprint to know where energy is used and how much carbon is being pumped into the atmosphere takes incredible courage, a willingness to be transparent and support an open dialogue. A city or county's carbon analysis is not meant as an indictment; in fact, it is the only way to affect positive change. If you want to reduce carbon, the outcome often takes the form of a carbon reduction plan. In Youngstown and Akron's case, their carbon reduction plans are smartly tied to an economic development strategy.

GCBL wrote about Youngstown's efforts here. We said then:

With this carbon emissions inventory, Youngstown acknowledges that it cannot change what it cannot measure. And change is what Mayor Williams has in mind. Since the report's release, details of how much and the cost of green house gas producing activities-from waste water treatment (the biggest source of GHGs at the city) to driving cars (the biggest source in the residential sector)-are brought to light for all to see and analyze (and come up with solutions).

The city of Cleveland has been in the process of conducting a carbon footprint analysis.

The city of Cincinnati published its Climate Action Plan including a carbon footprint analysis (it produces 8.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year). Cincy sets goals for reducing its green house gas emission: 8% within 4 years, 40% within 20 years, and 84% by 2050.

The old adage, you cannot manage what you don't measure holds true. In February, 2012 Cincinnati announced they are pursuing a power purchase agreement where they hope to offer households 100% renewable energy. They are following the example of Oak Park, Illinois which announced a deal to offer 100% renewable energy after receiving quotes that were very competitive with the cheapest electricity available.

Some more frameworks that have emerged in recent years for city governments to measure and set energy and carbon reduction goals include:

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