Customer Commentary: Simple Ways FC City Residents Can Reduce Carbon Footprint
By Jon Ward
In 2017, the City of Falls Church adopted the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s 2050 target of reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% from 2005. The MWCOG adopted an interim reduction target. by 50% by 2030. Since 2005, cleaner energy generation technologies have been offset by an increase in traffic and population in the city, so that in 2018 our total emissions fell by only 2%. It is a difficult challenge.
The Virginia General Assembly calls on Dominion Energy to significantly shift power generation from fossil fuels (primarily natural gas) to solar, nuclear, wind and hydro. It helps a lot, but it focuses only on the power grid and happens gradually over the next 25 years. The federal government intends to further encourage the use of cleaner, cleaner energy, but this will also take time.
There are a lot of things we can and must do now, locally. There are economical products that support our goals, and there is no time to waste using them. While some cleaner technologies may cost more upfront than their polluting counterparts, operating and maintenance costs often reduce lifetime costs. With an eye on 2030, here are the individual actions that can have the biggest effects:
Return your next electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle (new or used; purchase or lease). If you only drive a few thousand kilometers a year, don’t worry yet: your fuel consumption is already low. But if you drive closer to 10,000 miles or more per year, the total cost of ownership will likely be lower than that of an internal combustion vehicle, despite the generally higher initial cost (consumerreports.org/hybrids-evs/evs- offer-big- savings compared to traditional gasoline cars /). Can’t see a model on the market (plugstar.com/guide) that meets your needs? Have your current vehicle serviced for a year or two as model options expand rapidly. It will not last? Pick a used vehicle to get you through the next few years, then change.
In the meantime, if you drive, drive less. Once your post-Covid schedule has stabilized, track your monthly mileage. Next, find out how you can reduce it by about 15 percent (without hail). Combine your errands into one-off trips, walk or cycle, telecommute, use public transport, carpool – it all adds up. New developments in the city encourage safe walking and cycling options. With around 13,000 vehicles registered in the city, a 15% reduction could be equivalent to taking 2,000 vehicles off the road.
Single family Home? Think of a heat pump when your current furnace or A / C fails. In 2018, more than 10% of the GHG emissions attributed to the City came from residential natural gas use, almost as much as from residential electricity use. Heating and cooling systems installed today could last until 2035 or beyond. Switching your heating to an electric heat pump will reduce emissions from the electrical network as it becomes cleaner and cleaner. Twenty years ago, heat pumps had a reputation for not being able to keep pace when temperatures approached zero. But today’s heat pumps can effectively manage our local climate.
House over 12 years old? Consider an energy assessment. You may have already done a lot on your own: you have switched to LEDs and CFLs (throw out CFLs at the annual hazardous material collection); programmable thermostats installed; certain ENERGY STAR appliances; threw that spare working refrigerator in a hot garage; checked for drafts, then weatherstripped and caulked windows and doors; make sure the chimney register is airtight. And there are plenty of government and DIY websites with advice (energy.gov/energysaver; hes.lbl.gov/consumer/). But at some point, investing in an expert energy audit can help prioritize heating and air conditioning (HVAC), windows, waterproofing, insulation, and other upgrades to reduce consumption. of energy. The older the house and its systems, the greater the savings likely to be made. A simple home energy check can cost less than $ 50.
In addition, professional HVAC checks not only maintain the efficiency of the system, but can also stop a refrigerant leak before it causes further climate damage. Even a small loss of 5% of Puron (a common A / C refrigerant) could add up to 0.5 lbs. It is a powerful greenhouse gas, and over 20 years, 0.5 lbs will have the same climate effect as burning 110 gallons of gasoline today.
Own or operate commercial property in the city? First of all, congratulations on your presence during the pandemic. Second, follow the same recommendations as above. In 2018, GHG emissions from energy use in our commercial buildings were about 20% higher than for residential buildings, so comparable reduction levels are needed. Think about rooftop solar power: your tree recovery and shade factors are probably even more favorable than those of our residents. Continue to support any telecommuting you have developed this year.
The City can continue to encourage efficient new buildings, car-free alternatives and Richmond legislation. But citizens’ attention to a few key areas can accelerate our transition to a low-carbon society.
Jon Ward is a resident of the Falls Town Church