The Great Valley Center has completed Round 2 of the Green Communities program, which to date has assisted 24 local governments in the Central Valley with the development of municipal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventories. The inventories help governments to assess their “carbon footprint” as a starting point for GHG emission reduction.
Coverage Map: Round 1 is blue, Round 2 is redThe program is funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Green Communities provides local governments with the tools to begin reducing GHG emissions in response to statewide policies and recommendations, and provides fiscally strapped governments with the necessary resources to take the first step. A collaborative effort between Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, and the Great Valley Center, the Green Communities Program provides support to local governments and communities in pursuing their GHG emission reduction goals.
"If it wasn’t for this program we would not have the resources to have completed this project," said Erika Durrer, Senior Planner for the City of Manteca.
Under the program, GVC staff and interns from local universities were sent to local government offices to collect data, calculate the data into emission figures, and report the results back to the local governments. The staff and interns received intense training by ICLEI representatives, who also provided the tools and software critical to the development of these inventories.
The inventories help governments analyze and track GHG emissions, transportation, fuel use and waste production, and identify opportunities to reduce local energy consumption. In addition to revising development patterns, city and county governments can identify ways to reduce GHG emissions from vehicle fleets, landfills, wastewater treatment plants and administrative buildings. As an added benefit, local governments that become more energy efficient tend to reduce operating costs associated with energy consumption.
"We were able to have our 2010 inventory done, which showed improvement,” stated Elisa Moberly, a Management Analyst II with San Joaquin County. “The inventories help us to see what areas need work, especially by department, which will be very helpful as we proceed."
Round 2 of the Green Communities program included participation by 11 cities and three counties, representing a 40% increase in outreach from Round 1. During the extent of Round 2, a total of 671,864 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) were inventoried, a tremendous increase from the 108,747 metric tons of CO2e inventoried in Round 1.
Government staff showed great support throughout the program. For instance, Round 2 employee commute survey responses were obtained from 3,778 current employees, more than 8 times the number of Round 1 employees participating in the survey.
A large portion of the program was performed by university interns who were offered training, tools, and resources to assist local government staff with the development of inventories. Throughout the process, interns were able to build green job skills and experiences, as well as establish professional relationships within local government organizations. Of the 13 interns retained through the entirety of the program, 100% rated the program above average, 92% indicated that their knowledge of GHG emissions had improved as a result of the program, 85% indicated that they expect this experience to help them pursue career goals, and 23% indicated that they obtained a job or promotion as a result of participating in this program.
“Having completed this internship, I continue to use the knowledge I learned in the classroom, and in my daily life,” reports Kyle Joel Sierra, a Round 2 intern from California State University, Bakersfield. “Although this internship is heavily focused on GHG emissions, it will show future employers and graduate programs my interest in the environment and my working knowledge regarding the matter.”
The Great Valley Center is planning to continue working with our partners to present energy efficiency and climate solutions to communities in the Central Valley. While astounding progress has been made over the last two years, there is still much work to be done. The GVC plans on expanding our focus from local government operations alone to working with local governments and community stakeholders to assess and address emissions at a community-wide scale.
The next step is to conduct community emissions inventories. Like the local government operations inventories, these will establish a baseline emissions level for each community. Taken together, the baseline inventories inform the target-setting and strategy stages by providing detailed information on sources and quantities of emissions. The long-term emissions monitoring strategy is simplified in the ICLEI Five Milestone Process model.
With continued support from our partners, Great Valley Center plans to continue offering GHG emissions inventory services in 2013, and to get local governments started on energy action plans, climate action plans and other projects to help communities take the next crucial steps in addressing emissions: setting targets and selecting strategies for reduction.
To get involved, contact your local government or visit the Green Community program's “How to Get Involved” page.