COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Climate Protection Program Update
Review Greenhouse Gas Emissions Baseline Report and Local Climate Action Planning Process
Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Shadman, and
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
March 4, 2009
ACTION: INFORMATION: X
On December 5, 2007 the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the U.S. Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration committing to reduce the County’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. The County is following the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ (ICLEI) Five Milestone approach in order to reach this goal. In summary, the Milestones include: 1) Conduct a baseline emissions inventory and forecast; 2) Adopt an emissions reduction target for the forecast year; 3) Develop a Local Action Plan; 4) Implement the policies and measures in the Local Action Plan; and 5) Monitor and verify results. The General Services Department recently completed Milestone 1, which includes an inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors in the County (residential, transportation, commercial, municipal, waste, etc.) for the year 2000, our baseline year. The report can be found in Attachment A: “Emissions Baseline Report.” The City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia have also completed their baseline inventories, and officials from the three organizations have all expressed an interest in collaborating as we move towards the Local Climate Action Planning Process.
Goal 1 - Enhance the Quality of Life for all Citizens
Goal 2 – Protect the County’s Natural Resources
The emissions baseline data was analyzed using the Clean Air and Climate Protection (CACP) software developed by ICLEI. According to the baseline analysis, the County emitted a total of 2,309,363 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide (eCO2) in the year 2000, or 27.4 metric tons per capita. In 2006, total emissions were reduced to 1,780,476 eCO2 metric tons, or 19.2 metric tons of eCO2 per capita. The majority of the reduction in emissions can be attributed to the residential sector, wherein many residents switched from propane to natural gas consumption between the years 2000 and 2006. The CACP software allows for “forecast” projections up to the year 2020 based on a “business-as-usual” scenario. This scenario assumes that governments, companies or individuals will not take any actions specifically directed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The projected emissions for 2020 under this “business as usual” scenario are 2,231,562 eCO2 metric tons.
The County has pledged to reduce emissions by 80% by the year 2050, or an average of 2% per year beginning in 2010. Thus, by the year 2020 the County must reduce emissions by 20% from its baseline emissions or to 1,847,490 metric tons of eCO2 in order to meet this target.
Although the forecasted 2020 projection is lower than our baseline emissions, it is important to realize that without aggressively implementing climate protection measures, we will not be able to meet our target. Therefore, the next necessary step is to engage in a Local Climate Action Planning Process. The Board of Supervisors and County staff, along with officials from the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, have expressed a keen interest in collaborating on such a process. In January 2009 the Board and City Council unanimously passed resolutions in support of the County, City and University working together to address energy efficiency and climate change (See Attachments B and C). Environmental staff from the three organizations are currently developing plans to establish a Steering Committee and a set of Focus Groups that will guide and implement the planning process. Because the Steering Committee should ideally represent the community as a whole, the County Executive, the City Manager and the Chief Operating Officer for UVa will appoint members to the Committee. See Attachment D for the Steering Committee’s Mission Statement. Focus Groups will explore particular issues such as energy efficiency, waste and recycling, transportation, and renewable energy, and will be supported by appropriate staff from the County, City and University. The Steering Committee will ultimately issue a report outlining strategies that are particular to each entity, as well as those that present shared opportunities. In the end, each organization will determine what is appropriate for implementation. However, the expectation is that in those areas where cooperation and synergy are needed, Albemarle, Charlottesville, and UVa will share an approach. In January 2009, staff from the County and City presented this overall approach to the PACC Technical Committee, and the feedback from PACC Tech members was positive. See Attachment E for a graphic detailing the anticipated steps and timeline for the formation of the Steering Committee, Focus Groups, and Plan development.
The budgetary impact of this program will depend on the projects and programs that will be included in the Local Climate Action Plan, which will likely not be completed until the end of calendar year 2009. While projects and programs aimed at lowering energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions can have an upfront cost, in general these types of programs are designed to save stakeholders money over time. In anticipation of the Local Climate Action Planning Process, the General Services Department submitted a 5-year CIP budget request in September 2008 totaling $1,016,000. This cost represented the “low-end” of a range researched by staff, wherein a dozen localities in the mid-Atlantic region reportedly either budgeted or spent, on average, between $175,000 and $1,860,000 in FY08 alone towards climate protection initiatives. While this CIP budget request has not yet been approved, there are other funding opportunities. The County is considered a “formula recipient” for the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant that has been recently increased to $4.2 billion. If passed by both the House and Senate, as expected, it is estimated that the County would receive between $200,000 and $250,000 annually for five years to put towards climate protection and energy efficiency initiatives. In addition, the General Services Department has included roughly $55,000 annually in its CIP budget for municipal energy efficiency projects, such as the solar thermal system installed at COB 5th Street this February. Lastly, the County, City and University are currently planning to submit a proposal for the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) grant. The SEEA will be awarding a Southeastern locality $500,000 to design a program that reduces energy and water use by consumers and businesses. Should our community be awarded this grant, these funds will give the County a jump-start on establishing a program that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the residential and commercial sectors.
Staff recommends that the Board direct staff to move forward with the proposed Local Climate Action Planning Process.
Attachment A – Emissions Baseline Report
Attachment B – Board of Supervisors Resolution
Attachment C – City Council Resolution
Attachment D – Mission Statement for Steering Committee
Attachment E – Steps and Timeline for Local Climate Action Planning Process
Return to regular agenda