Olympia supports resolution to reduce county's greenhouse gas emissions

The OlympianMarch 4, 2014 

The Olympia City Council unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday that supports a countywide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The resolution is in response to the non-profit Thurston Climate Action Team’s Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report.

According to the report, Thurston County’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 were measured at 2,761,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. That equates to annual emissions from 575,208 passenger vehicles.

Olympia had the highest level of emissions among the county’s cities. The report noted Olympia’s emissions at 564,607 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or about 12.15 metric tons per person.

In Olympia, 32 percent of greenhouse emissions come from on-road vehicles and 65 percent come from residential and commercial buildings, said public works director Rich Hoey.

The council’s resolution follows the principles of Sustainable Thurston, a regional economic development plan that calls for strategies to reduce emissions for the next 35 years. The council had also passed a resolution in 2004 that called for reduced emissions associated with city operations.

The city has taken steps to curb emissions, such as adding six electric vehicles to the municipal fleet and installing solar power panels at the Olympia Timberland Library and Olympia Farmers Market, for example.

In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency designated Olympia as a “Green Power Community” for its efforts to generate electricity from renewable energy sources.

This summer, the city plans to expand the use of biodiesel fuel, Hoey said. He also pointed to practices such as requiring residents in certain areas to put their trash bins on a single side of the street as another method for reducing fuel consumption by city vehicles.

Other efforts to reduce the city’s carbon footprint – and overall energy bill - include the 2009 installation of LED street lights, which save about $174,000 a year, and LED traffic signals, which save about $60,000 a year, Hoey said.

The next steps for the City Council include addressing changes to the comprehensive plan that call for more ways to track and reduce greenhouse gases. The comprehensive plan refers to the city’s overall goals and vision for the next 20 years.

Lacey and Tumwater are also reviewing the emissions report, according to the action team.

“Working regionally and working with partners on this particular issue is the way to go,” Mayor Pro-Tem Nathaniel Jones said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s what we need to be doing.”

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 or ahobbs@theolympian.com

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