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DC Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
This Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory, also known as a “carbon footprint,” estimates the total amount of carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of energy consumption, vehicle use and other activities in the District of Columbia. Conducting our GHG inventory is best understood as placing a “bubble” over the city and counting GHG emissions attributed to activities that occur within the District’s boundaries.
This Inventory estimates emissions attributed to both government operations and broader community activities within the District during calendar year 2006 (selected as our “baseline” year because of superior data quality and accuracy). The community inventory includes estimated GHG emissions from all building energy use, vehicles fuel use and transportation, and emissions from waste streams. The government operations inventory, which is a subset of the community inventory, provides a much more in-depth analysis of emissions from the District’s local government operations, including government-operated facilities and streetlights, vehicle fleet and off-road equipment, and waste generated by government operations.
What is the District's "Carbon Footprint"?
In calendar year 2006, our city-wide GHG emissions from electricity consumption and other direct sources totaled 10.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), or about 18 tons per resident. This amount is below the EPA’s national average of 19.7 tons per person, but higher than other major cities due to energy use by the District’s large day-time population of workers who commute into the city. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of emissions by sector, including: buildings (residential, non-residential, and federal); vehicles (indicated as VMT or vehicle miles traveled); mass transit (Metro); and waste. With 75 percent of our GHG emissions linked to buildings, one of our most effective emissions reduction actions will be comprehensive energy use reduction in buildings. Figure 2 provides a breakdown of the specific energy sources of our greenhouse gas emissions, including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, vehicle fuel (gasoline and diesel), kerosene, and emissions from solid waste. Electricity consumption is our largest driver of GHG emissions.
Figure 1 Figure 2
Why is a GHG Inventory Important?
The District of Columbia—along with community and government leaders around the nation and the world—recognizes that human-caused climate change is a reality and presents the potential for harm to District’s residents, institutions, and businesses. Sea level rise and flooding, increased urban heat effect, changes in weather patterns, and reliability of energy supply are some of the challenges that the District may face in a changing climate.
With this recognition comes the awareness that cities play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the potential impacts of climate change through actions taken to reduce emissions from government operations and from the community as a whole. The District’s GHG Inventory represents a critical first step towards the development of a Climate Action Plan. This inventory quantifies the “baseline” emissions, which will be used to track progress made towards emissions reduction goals over time, and also shows the District’s emissions profile from its government operations and community sources.
What Can Each of Us Do to Reduce GHG Emissions?
- Conduct an energy audit of your home and implement energy saving measures.
- Purchase only Energy Star® appliances and watch for District Rebate Programs.
- Unplug electronics when not in used (a power strip makes this more convenient).
- Walk, bike or use public transportation whenever possible; go car free at least one day a week.
- Keep the homecooler in winter and warmer in the summer.
- Conduct an energy audit of your facilities and implement energy saving measures.
- Reduce vehicle fleets or convert to alternative fuel vehicles.
- Take advantage of the Commuter Connections® and SmartBenefits® programs to reduce vehicle use.
Climate Change Resources
ICLEI: The District is participating in ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, which helps cities to adopt policies that will have a measurable impact on greenhouse gas emissions. This is accomplished by conducting a baseline measurement of emissions and then developing a climate action plan that sets a specific target for emission reduction
Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement: Signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty in January 2007, this agreement is an initiative by the U.S. Council of Mayors to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol at a local level.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint: Curious as to how much carbon emissions your daily activities produce? Use this tool to measure your impact and learn about ways to reduce your emissions.