Municipal Carbon Footprint

Summary:

A municipal greenhouse gas inventory was completed for Middletown using 2018 as a baseline. A Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory is an accounting of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from activities within a given boundary. These inventories help decision-makers identify the greatest sources of GHG emissions, establish goals, and track progress towards reduction targets.

 

Emission are broken down into three categories, or scopes, by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol in order to better understand the source of emissions. Inventory results are typically expressed in Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, or MT CO2e, for ease in comparison. This measure converts all greenhouse gases emitted into the equivalent amount of CO2 by weighing its relative global warming potential.

Most of the energy consumed by the Middletown government, 88%, is from electricity, with the remaining 12% from gasoline and diesel fuel used by municipal vehicles and equipment.

A municipal GHG Inventory, otherwise known as a Municipal Carbon Footprint, specifically focuses on the emissions associated with municipal government operations. It usually includes emissions from activities under the municipality’s operational or financial control such as energy used by government-owned buildings, streetlights, and vehicles, plus emissions associated with other municipal operations such as solid waste, wastewater treatment, landscaping, etc.

 

Municipal GHG Inventories allow a local government to understand the major sources of its emissions, provide a basis for developing an action plan, and track changes in its carbon footprint over time. Inventories can also be compared to other municipalities; however, it is important to keep in mind that the scope of operations varies widely across different municipal governments. Thus, comparisons are most useful with municipalities of a similar size and between those that provide similar services.

 

Most of the energy consumed by the Middletown government, 88%, is from electricity, with the remaining 12% from gasoline and diesel fuel used by municipal vehicles and equipment. At the time of the inventory, the town facilities did not use any natural gas, although the municipal office building is now heated with natural gas.

 

In addition to the emissions associated with energy use (electricity, gasoline, and diesel), Middletown’s wastewater treatment processes generate emissions. These emissions, which result from the treatment processes themselves and not the energy used to power the treatment plants, represent about 10% of the total municipal emissions.

If possible, working with the utility to replace streetlights that they own with LEDs could be another effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

The town’s water and wastewater operations are the largest contributors to municipal emissions. Within this category, electricity use is the largest component, followed by process emissions and emissions from the department’s vehicles. To reduce electricity use for water treatment, Middletown could consider energy efficiency upgrades at its plants or energy recovery strategies. The municipality also pays electric bills for about 600 street and area lights, which contribute about 18% of the town’s total emissions. While some municipally-owned lights have been converted to LED, it is not clear how many of the utility-owned lights have been upgraded. If possible, working with the utility to replace streetlights that they own with LEDs could be another effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

 

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