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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

County to begin carbon neutral initiative with agreement

Laura Jesse (photo)
Public Information Officer
Commissioner's Court

County to begin carbon neutral initiative

Bexar County Commissioners took a first step Tuesday at reducing the county’s carbon footprint by approving an agreement with the city of San Antonio and AACOG to get a baseline community-wide assessment of those greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane gas and carbon dioxide. The move is above and beyond air quality and energy efficiency measures already taken by the County.

Commissioners also directed county staff to advertise for requests for qualifications and proposals for a consultant to conduct an assessment of carbon emissions from county facilities, vehicles and operations. Following that assessment, the county would then move to implement strategies to reduce its carbon footprint and eventually become a carbon neutral operation.

“This is a major step that I believe is without equal in the whole state, and that is to become carbon neutral in five years,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Adkisson said, noting that the county has already made historic efforts to improve the county’s air quality and overall environmental stewardship.
“We have the largest solar hot water heater in the state and we have one of only two certified energy managers in the 254 counties of this state,” Adkisson said. “This is a very noble and laudable step for Bexar County to become carbon neutral.”

Becoming carbon neutral means reducing or offsetting an operation’s emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The first step would be to take an inventory of the emissions and then develop strategies to reduce the emissions. Some major sources of carbon emissions are: energy consumption through vehicles and buildings, waste and use of solvents and other products in buildings and on vehicles.

Once the County receives an inventory of its emissions, staff will then evaluate the necessary strategies and associated costs before recommending an action plan for Commissioners Court approval.

“It’s important in this kind of initiative to look at what is practical for the county to implement,” said Infrastructure Services Director Joe Aceves. “The second part of that would be where we invite other people or entities to do the same kind of thing we are and look at overall improvements for the rest of the county.”

The carbon-neutral initiative is the latest step in environmental projects for the county that include a free bus ridership program with VIA Metropolitan Transit, an e-85 gas station, LEED standards for all new construction and energy efficient lighting systems with automatic shut-off.

1 comment:

Peggy V said...

Some of the efforts to be carbon neutral will end up costing the county taxpayers more money. Has a cost and benefit analysis been done?