Creating A Climate Action Plan<br />Preface<br />Developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) can be a daunting task. Tackling the issues of global warming and energy efficiency can often seem too large for one community to improve. The science behind the issues can often seem complicated and the solutions expensive. However, with some careful and targeted outreach, planning, and pooling of resources, communities can successfully implement a strategic CAP and make meaningful change. And, as an extra added benefit, everyone in your community will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.<br />Reach Out. An important first step is to review the latest climate change research available in your area, e.g., studies, polling data, and reports from environmental organizations, universities and governmental agencies. Performing research in advance will help your community determine its specific energy and efficiency issues and goals. Enlist the assistance of knowledge centers, such as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the Clean Energy Center, a quasi-public agency that serves as a clearinghouse and support center for the clean energy sector. Additionally, it can be helpful to review examples of other CAPs that have been implemented by surrounding communities.<br />Engage. Determine who the constituents are in your community across all sectors – municipal, business, institutional, residential, and then determine the particular goals for each. For example, you may learn that your municipality is focused on increasing the fuel efficiency of its fleet of vehicles, or that a large local business is interested in decreasing its office utility costs, and that residents would like idling times at nearby warehouses decreased. In addition to determining future goals, it can also be helpful to determine what community members have already done to address energy efficiency and sustainability issues. <br />Armed with this information, create a Climate Task Force. The members of a Climate Task Force will vary by community depending on your constituency and goals. However, despite these differences, every community should consider the following:<br />
Obtain buy-in from your community’s highest level of leadership.
For each goal, include someone who has that specific body of knowledge. For example, if your community is concerned about traffic issues, include a person with a background in transportation, preferably someone from your municipality’s transportation department. It is critical that your Climate Task Force is composed of members with the relevant knowledge base.
Engage scientists and engineers. They are a valuable resource for performing an energy emission inventory and formulating recommendations.
Include members from local non-profits and local planning councils.
Build partnerships. Determine who in your state and local government will champion your efforts, and coordinate with them early and often. While not an exhaustive list, some important partners include:
Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER),
Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEA),
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),
State and municipal departments of administration and finance,
Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM)
Massachusetts Department of Public Works (DPW),
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU),
Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).
For a helpful organizational chart of the various state agencies, refer to: http://www.mass.gov/bb/gaa/fy2010/app_10/ga_10/hcdefault.htm<br />Educate. Embark upon a widespread advertising campaign to educate your residents, businesses and other members of your community regarding the necessity for, and benefits of, implementing a CAP. As part of these efforts, it is important to make the business case for how the CAP will save the community money. Getting the word out and marketing your efforts will energize your community, instill community members with a sense of pride, and present them with a meaningful way to contribute to improving your community. <br />Introduction<br />Cite resolution or legislation enabling the creation of the Climate Action Plan.<br />Cite existing GHG emissions inventory. Be sure that it includes an analysis of building stock, transportation systems and energy infrastructure.<br />Basic Strategies: energy efficiency, increasing use of alternative fuels and waste reduction.<br />Vision and Strategy<br />Include vision statement. Possible statements could include:<br />
Desire to be smarter and more resourceful about the manner in which the city’s buildings use energy, people and goods are transported, and waste is managed. (Cambridge)
Plan proposes strategies based on increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy costs, switching to renewable energy sources, reducing vehicle miles traveled, reducing the generation of solid waste, improving health and air quality, and water conservation. (Cambridge, Chicago)
Highlight benefits: financial savings; improvements to public health and quality of life; decrease in travel by cars saves fuel and money and reduces congestion; economic vitality and job creation arises from demand for energy efficiency and renewable energy services; long-range planning creates a safer, cleaner, more habitable community; and a more active, productive and supportive community as a result of increased education and outreach. (Newton, Boston)
Summarize Green House Gas (GHG) Reduction Strategies and Goals. Strategies should focus on reducing GHG emissions, air pollution, utility and fuel costs, amount of traffic; and conservation of natural resources. For example, Cambridge developed the following reduction targets:<br />
Improve efficiency of electricity use by 12.5%.
Reduce natural gas and fuel oil use by 10%.
Reduce emissions associated with electricity generation by 40%.
Purchase 20% of electricity from green power sources.
Increase average fuel economy to 40 MPG in the municipal fleet.
Reduce vehicle miles traveled by 10%.
Increase recycling rate to 60%.
Energy<br />Implement an Energy Efficiency Plan <br />
Conservation and improvements to energy efficiency are the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions.
Suggested strategies:<br />
Update municipal energy code.
Existing buildings consume the bulk of energy. Prioritize retrofitting existing buildings by providing incentives. Upgrade heating and cooling equipment, install heat pump systems, improve insulation, replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescents, implement energy management controls, upgrade with energy efficient appliances and windows, and utilize solar or tankless hot water systems. (Cambridge, Chicago)
Implement an energy management system for municipal buildings and facilities. A helpful resource is Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager online: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=evaluate_performance.bus_portfoliomanager (Cambridge)
Create incentives for businesses and institutions to participate in the EPA’s Energy Star Program. (Cambridge)
Replace incandescent traffic signals with light emitting diode (LED) lights. (Cambridge). Investigate other options for upgrading municipal lighting to LEDs, including street lights and exit signs at all municipal buildings. (Worcester)
Implement a Life Cycle Cost Analysis Policy for major product purchases, such as computers, printers, copiers, etc. The policy should examine the overall costs of an item, including the maintenance and energy costs, along with the item’s initial cost. (Newton)
Implement purchasing policies to favor energy efficient equipment. Refer to EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program, http://www.epa.gov/epp/. (Cambridge)
Assist residents to improve home efficiency through outreach campaigns and partnerships with local organizations.
Utilize energy service companies and performance contracting. (Cambridge)
Purchase renewable energy for the municipal electric load and encourage renewable energy purchasing by businesses, institutions and households. Reduce use of fossil fuels. (Cambridge)
Create options for businesses, institutions and residents to purchase renewable energy, including consumer aggregations. (Cambridge)
Transportation<br />Transportation-related emissions arise from vehicles that utilize gasoline or diesel. The amount of emissions is a result of the fuel economy of the vehicle and the vehicle run time (a combination of number of miles traveled and time idling).<br />Strategies to reduce GHG emissions from transportation may include the following:<br />
Encourage alternate modes of transportation, including private shuttle buses, public transportation, walking and cycling. Install additional bike lanes and storage. Retrofit streets and intersections to better accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. (Cambridge)
Consider the feasibility of telecommuting for municipal employees.
Develop a municipal green fleet policy. Acquire alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles for the municipal fleet. (Cambridge)
Install emission controls on heavy-duty vehicles. (Cambridge)
Implement a policy to reduce idling. (Cambridge)
Promote transit improvements, including the acquisition of alternative fuel buses. (Cambridge)
Land Use, Buildings & Vegetation Management<br />Our urban footprint, including the layout of streets and buildings, the design of buildings, and the distribution of open space, all impact energy consumption, the ease of using alternative transportation and other factors that affect GHG emissions. (Cambridge)<br />Strategies for reducing GHG emissions that arise from the way we use our urban footprint include the following:<br />
Use zoning to encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented development. (Cambridge)
Design buildings with flexible re-use options. (Cambridge)
Promote the creation of more open space through zoning and incentive programs. (Cambridge)
Optimize building design and the use of vegetation to shade buildings and reduce the urban heat island effect. (Cambridge)
Install roofs with high reflectance or “green” landscaped roofs. (Cambridge)
Implement zoning incentives to encourage the use of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards. (Cambridge)
Collaborate with neighboring communities to create an effective regional land use plan. (Cambridge)
Plant more trees and other vegetation. Trees, in particular, cool summer air temperatures. Trees located on the west-, northwest- and east-facing sides of buildings can significantly reduce cooling costs for a typical home or low-rise building during peak summer energy demands. (Worcester)
Waste Management<br />GHG emissions are created when waste is either burned in incinerators or degrades as a result of being landfilled. Waste generation can be minimized and prevented by using materials more efficiently and by extending their length of use. (Cambridge)<br />A waste reduction plan may include the following elements:<br />
Implement waste prevention programs at the municipal, business and institutional levels. (Cambridge)
Facilitate recycling of construction debris and waste. Encourage reuse of materials from existing structures during renovation and redevelopment. (Cambridge)
Assess and improve existing municipal purchasing policies to increase the use of recycled paper and other products. Encourage the use of products or services that contain recycled content, minimize waste, conserve energy or water or reduce the amount of toxics disposed or consumed. (Cambridge)
Investigate ways to capture methane gas emitted from landfills for electricity production. See ICLEI’s Clean Air Climate Protection (CACP) software, which allows municipalities to estimate methane gas emissions from landfills. (Worcester)
Facilitate commercial food waste collection and composting strategies, especially for large institutions. (Cambridge)
Encourage and facilitate sustainable farming.
Implementation<br />Successful implementation requires a community-wide process to engage all sectors, so that residents, businesses, institutions and the government can both develop appropriate responses in a coordinated fashion with ongoing monitoring and implement modifications. (Cambridge)<br />Critical elements of a successful implementation strategy include:<br />
Create strong municipal leadership. It is important that the municipality lead by example by improving the energy efficiency of municipal buildings, installing renewable energy systems, purchasing renewable energy, increasing fuel economy and reducing vehicle trips of the municipal fleet, reducing waste, and requiring sustainable practices. (Cambridge)
Use targets that are measurable.
Undertake a municipal-wide campaign to engage all sectors in the effort to reduce GHG. The campaign should include marketing efforts, publications for the stakeholder groups, public recognition of notable achievements, and a means to report to the public the progress made under the CAP. (Cambridge)
Build on existing efforts and prior successes.
Implement tracking systems to monitor reduction in energy use, transportation data, and waste volumes. Report results on a regular basis to assess progress toward the emission reduction targets. (Cambridge) Refer to ICLEI’s website for helpful reporting formats available to local governments, e.g., Clean Air and Climate Protection Software (CACPS). (Worcester)
Establish a Coordinating Committee to monitor progress, advise the municipality regarding plan implementation, and recommend strategies for improvement if issues arise. (Cambridge) As implementation moves forward, new technologies, services and approaches will emerge, and these developments should be incorporated into the CAP.
Network with other communities and organizations that are already successfully engaging in local climate protection. (Cambridge)
Establish an Energy Investment Fund to provide capital for energy efficiency projects in public facilities. (Newton)