100K Challenge Exceeded
January 12, 2011 5:15 PM
Not quite four years ago, I set out a challenge: reduce Madison's carbon footprint by 100,000 tons by April, 2011. Well, the latest numbers are in and we more than tripled that goal, and we did it four months early.
Actually, we probably did even better. We measured a decrease of about 128,000 tons of carbon dioxide through the purchase of green power (mostly wind energy) by the City of Madison, its residents and businesses. Savings through conservation weren't counted in that number. Here in city government we now use alternative energy purchases for about one-quarter of all the power we buy.
Plus, the UW took up the challenge as well and reduced its cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by 183,000 tons since 2007. And in addition to businesses that purchased green power, the MPower businesses also accounted for a reduction of about 13,000 tons. All in all, that's a reduction of about 324,000 tons.
And on the conservation front, we are hard at work trying to manage our buildings (the city owns about 300) more intelligently. Our Sustainability and Facilities Management folks have found that 5% to 10% can be saved right off the top just by more effective and consistent management actions (e.g. turn down the thermostat and turn computers off!) without any capital investment at all. But of course we are making smart investments as well in things like energy efficient lighting, new boilers, solar hot water systems and solar electric panels where they make sense.
Another thing that's exciting is how many of our residents and businesses have taken up the challenge. The other day I kicked off a conference for businesses looking to save energy (and money) in their operations and over 150 people showed up for that early morning presentation. It was called the Mpower Business ChaMpion workshop. You can learn more about how your business can benefit from clean energy by visiting www.mpoweringmadison.com/.
So, now that we've met and exceeded our initial challenge, what's next? Well, it's time to up the ante. A new, revised Madison Sustainability Plan is about to make its way through city committees. The thing about meeting a goal is that it just whets the appetite to meet another one.