In May 2016, Mayor Greg Fischer signed the Global Covenant of Mayors, an agreement of about 7,500 mayors in cities across the world, which committed Louisville to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. So many cities signedd on to this Covenant because cities play a major role in the creating these emissions--70% of greenhouse gas emissions come from cities.
Greenhouse gases are pollutants that get trapped in the atmosphere and cause climate change. They are emitted when we drive, use energy to power our homes and buildings, and when waste breaks down in the landfill, among other sources.
The commitment is a three step process: conducting a greenhouse gas inventory, setting a reduction target and creating a strategy to meet that target.
Why does reducing greenhouse gases matter?
In Louisville, climate change is causing temperatures to rise and more extreme weather events to occur. These changes are leading to more frequent rain events and flooding, challenges in food productions, more rapidly again infrastructure, and higher energy costs.
These emissions also affect the health of our residents. Higher greenhouse gas emissions contribute to adverse health outcomes including respiratory and cardiovascular stress and asthma.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory
To determine by how much we should reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we first needed to know how much we are emitting. We measured emissions in 2010 and in 2016 to provide an inventory but also a trend. What we discovered is that since 2010, Louisville has reduced its emissions by 17%.
Primary sources of emissions:
Heating, cooling and powering buildings: 71%
On-road transportation: 19%
Waste decomposition at landfill and in wastewater treatment: 4%
Since 2010, on-road transportation emissions dropped 4.7% due to more energy efficient vehicles and waste emissions increased 7.8% due to residents sending more waste to the landfill and increased wastewater treatment as a result of population growth.
To read the greenhouse gas inventory in its entirety, please click here. To read an overview of the inventory, please click here. To read a short fact sheet, please click here.
While reduction greenhouse gases will require action by all of our residents, the city, understands that it cannot sit on the sidelines. Departments across the enterprise understand the cost saving and economic benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Examples of how the city is playing a role in the reduction include:
Cool Roof Incentive Program: Through Metro incentives, 75,000 square feet of cool roof has been installed on residential and commercial structures and an additional 110,000 square feet have applied.
Solar Energy: Louisville Metro is using solar energy on 7 buildings, varying from libraries to fire stations and the Louisville Zoo.
Traffic Control: Public Works uses a wireless traffic signal communication network and times the traffic lights to reduce the time that cars idle at traffic lights
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: PARC maintains eight electric vehicle charging stations in its garages.
Housing & Community Development repair programs: For each roof, that the Office of Housing & Community Development replaces, it will be replaced with a cool roof. This has resulted in an additional 50 cool roofs across the city (since July 2016) and cost savings for the homeowners.
How Can Residents Reduce Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
1. Plant A Tree: In addition to improving neighborhood aesthetics, reducing our urban heat island, increasing property values, and improving storm water management, trees absorb our greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Replace Your Light Bulbs: Compact fluorescent or LED lightbulbs use less energy and last longer than regular light bulbs.
3. Insulate And Seal Your Home: Reducing air leaks and adding insulation will reduce the needs to cool or hear your home and will save you money on energy bills.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: By throwing less away, you can reduce the amount of waste in our landfill and reduce the amount of emissions from breaking down the waste.
5. Drive Less and Drive Efficiently: Consider walking, riding a bike, taking the bus or carpooling to reduce the number of cars in the road and the amount of emissions coming out of our tailpipes.
Now that the inventory is complete, the process of setting a reduction target will begin. City staff will be meeting with residents, businesses, organizations, and all interested stakeholders to get feedback and input on how a target should be set and how we, as a city, can work together to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. A robust public engagement process will be announced in 2018 and ample opportunity to discuss the inventory will be provided.
If you have questions, comments or would like to discuss what you can do to reduce your home or business’s greenhouse gas emissions, please contact the Office of Sustainability at 574-1974 or send us an email here.