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City of Colorado Springs completes its first Greenhouse Gas Inventory
A greenhouse gas inventory accounts for greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted or removed from the atmosphere over a period of time. The City?s GHG inventory has establish a 2007 baseline for the organization that has identified its greatest sources of GHG emissions. The data will help the City to develop informed reduction strategies and assess progress over time.
 
The City emitted 92,424 metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2007 comprised of 91,989 metric tons of CO2, 39 metric tons of methane, and 397 metric tons of Nitrous Oxide. Using the Environmental Protection Agency?s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, this is equivalent to:
  • CO2 emissions from the electricity use of 23,767 CO2 homes for one year, or
  • Annual greenhouse gas emissions from 37,446 passenger vehicles, or
  • CO2 emissions from burning 1,023 railcars? worth of coal, or
  • Greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling 65,940 tons of waste instead of sending it to the landfill, or
  • Carbon sequestered annually by 41,757acres of pine or fir forests.
The City?s GHG inventory used methods of calculation consistent with the Local Government Operations Protocol developed in partnership by The Climate Registry, the California Climate Action Registry, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, and the California Air Resources Board. The City will be able to use the custom inventory tool to conduct future inventories as well. Here are some of the key findings:
  • As a primarily coal-powered community, 17.7% of the City's greenhouse gas emissions came from purchased energy (i.e. electricity) with another 13.1% from mobile sources (i.e. vehicle fuel/air conditioning refrigerants), 9.8% from stationary combustion (i.e. natural gas and generators), and 6.4% from employee commuting (this is a voluntary, non-required category).
  • The single largest greenhouse gas contributor was the community's streetlights and traffic signals, which were responsible for almost 40% of the City's 2007 emissions. Other large emitters included the Colorado Springs Airport (13.2%), Police Department (12.5%), and Parks and Recreation Division (10.5%).
  • As measures of intensity, 1) an average of 37 metric tons of CO2 was emitted per employee in 2007 and 2) For every $1 million spent by the City in 2007, it emitted 273.4 metric tons of CO2.
Click here to see more graphs.
 
The next step for the City is to incorporate this information into its first Environmental Sustainability Plan, which is currently under development. The sustainability plan is also intended to include climate actions reduction strategies.
 
The EPA has created a Personal Emissions Calculator so individuals and families can also estimate their own greenhouse gas emissions and explore how taking various actions can reduce those emissions. Businesses and organizations too can complete greenhouse gas assessments, click here to find out more. 
 
The City?s Office of Sustainability was able to complete this effort through funding provided by the Department of Energy?s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant as a part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Consultants R.W. Beck, an SAIC company, worked with the City to create the initial GHG inventory and are now helping to set goals, and develop and prioritize potential emission reduction strategies.
View October 2010