Dane County, WI's Climate Action Contribution
About Dane County, WI's Climate Efforts
We track all of our electric, gas, water supply and wastewater treatment energy use with EnergyCap. Over the past 12 years we have completed 71 energy efficiency projects in 8 county buildings at total cost of slightly more than $16 million. We have installed 15 behind-the-meter solar arrays on various buildings that together total more than 600 kW of capacity. We are in the middle of constructing a 9 MW grid-tied solar array on land adjacent to the Dane County Airport. We have for years generated electricity from methane gas from our county landfill, but just this spring we finished a $29 M project to build the infrastructure to clean up the gas to pipeline grade and inject it into an interstate pipeline to sell as clean RNG for transportation fuel. We have a contract with Kwik Trip, a local gas station chain to sell that compressed RNG at their stations along the interstate highway in Wisconsin. We have also converted more than 80 of our vehicles, mostly heavy duty diesel trucks (e.g. dump trucks and snowplows) to compressed RNG from our landfill. We have also spent two and a half years convening a 38 organizational climate council to develop a climate action plan which is in the final layout and design stages and will be published in January of 2020. We also have built out one of the most extensive bike path networks in the nation. We have also spent more than $20 M in our most recent budget on flood mitigation. We were also one of the first counties to publish a Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan that took climate change impacts fully into account.
Climate Action Commitments
Current Climate Actions Dane County, WI Is Taking:
Commit to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutant Emissions
Short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—are powerful climate warmers many times more potent than CO2 over their lifetimes. Because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, actions to reduce these super pollutants can have substantial, near-term climate, agricultural and health benefits and are an essential complement to CO2 reduction strategies. Policy-makers can announce regulatory or voluntary approaches to drastically reduce SLCPs, such as developing methane strategies or adopting rules on use of warming HFCs. Organizations can commit to engage with suppliers to provide training, conduct pollutant inventories, and establish systems for tracking, measuring, and monitoring these types of emissions. Analysis shows that SLCP emissions can be cost-effectively reduced by an estimated 40-50 percent by 2030.
Policymakers, companies and organizations are encouraged to accept the #SLCPChallenge of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which calls for ambitious action on SLCPs. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards reduction, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Purchase renewable power or build on-site renewable electricity to run local government needs
Powering your own operations with renewable electricity or using local government buildings and land to site solar PV panels is within the decision-making authority of most localities and can be a model to your community.
Replace fleet vehicles and buses that run on fossil fuels with vehicles that run on electricity
Electric fleet vehicles, especially buses, have a range of benefits that make them an excellent investment for local government use. Cities are coming together to spur innovation amongst manufacturers and use their collective purchasing power to drive down cost.
Increase energy efficiency of local government operations, such as buildings, street lighting, and water or wastewater plants
Energy efficiency is the best way to save taxpayer money and cut climate pollution right now. The average building wastes about a third of the energy it uses. Consider implementing a strategic energy management plan for all major operations.
Work with energy utilities to increase renewable energy provided to residents and businesses
Going beyond the local government’s own operations to make renewable energy available to your community is a challenging, but critical step that means working with utilities, state government, and your residents. Clean, renewable bring with them better air, predictable, increasingly lower customer pricing, and local job deployment opportunities.
Adopt policies that accelerate the transition to electric vehicles for commercial fleets and personal vehicles
Electric vehicles for personal and commercial use are, along with automation, a major trend coming to scale quickly. The proper infrastructure to support EVs will be critical to capture their benefits. Consider partnership with the largest local commercial fleet operators to pilot new ideas.
Increase rates of walking, cycling and public transit through means accessible to all residents
In many communities, the transportation sector is the largest share of their pollution and getting people to use alternative modes of transit to the personal vehicle comes with a myriad of benefits, not only cutting greenhouse gases.
Adopt policies to reduce carbon footprint of new and/or existing buildings
Building electricity, heating, and cooling at the community-scale is, with transportation, the other major source of carbon emissions. Strategies will vary between single-family homes, multi-family residential housing, and commercial buildings. Conducting energy audits and using benchmarking is an excellent tool to drive efficiency. Incentive programs for energy upgrades can be done effectively the more buildings that participate.
Promote practices that reduce the carbon footprint of food procurement and consumption and prevent food waste
Food is often overlooked as a source of greenhouse gas pollution. What it takes to produce, how far is travels to get to consumers and what’s done with food that’s not eaten all lead to major carbon pollution. Producing more food locally, running programs with restaurants and institutions to reduce food waste, and cutting back on carbon intense foods such as meat and poultry are important steps.
Set a goal for emissions reduction equal to or greater than the US goal under the Paris Climate Agreement (26-28% by 2025)
We all know the best way to measure, and actually achieve success, is to set a goal. Making that goal inline with or stronger than the U.S. nationally determined contribution under Paris signals that local governments are doing their part. Hundreds of cities and counties across the U.S. see an emissions reduction target of this level ambitious but doable.
Quantify, track and publicly report my climate action through CDP or carbon Climate Registry
Disclosure of your climate targets, emissions profile, and actions on a transparent platform is important for accountability to your residents and is increasingly necessary to access tools and financial resources.
Use strategies building resilience to threats of climate change in zoning, capital improvement, comprehensive planning, and hazard mitigation documents
One of the most important things local governments can do when it comes to addressing climate change is to prepare for its effects--severe storms, drought, flooding, heat waves and more. Local government is already pledged to provide for the health and safety of their residents from these hazards. Climate change will make them worse and understanding and accounting for what’s to come in existing official documents is part of that responsibility.
New Climate Actions Dane County, WI Commits To Take:
Give all residents in my community, especially those underrepresented or of marginalized groups, a voice in setting policy and action plans
Plans, strategies, and their implementation should include the input and priorities of the community. Having your residents’ support and involvement will lead to better long term solutions. Simply holding an open public hearing is not sufficient for the inclusion of all residents. Many methods exist for successful community engagement.
Commit to the Natural and Working Lands Challenge
The natural systems upon which we depend are essential to life and critical for reducing the impacts of climate change on our communities. These systems are also under threat from human activity and climate change. Maintaining the resilience of natural and working lands is an important part of any GHG emission reduction strategy. It is also important to securing the well-being of communities, economies and ecosystems. Actions that secure and enhance the “carbon base,” such as land conservation, restoration, and improved management, also support watersheds and food systems, improve air quality, protect against urban heat islands and sea level rise, and preserve the beauty and function of natural areas and parks. Those that accept the NWL Challenge should commit to securing natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. This will take different forms for different actors. For example, local, sub-national and national jurisdictions might take a broad approach like that of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Landowners and managers may wish to focus on restoration and implementing climate-smart practices on their own lands. Businesses may look at their supply chains and customers as potential partners, and incorporate natural and working goals into their own climate change commitments and strategies.
The U.S. Climate Alliance States commit to taking actions that will reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, rangelands, wetlands and urban greenspace, and integrating these pathways into state GHG mitigation plans by 2020. The Natural and Working Lands Challenge calls on other states, cities, nations, tribes, businesses and others to make the same commitment within their organizations. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards this challenge, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Areas For Collaboration
We are interested in collaborating on the following:
- Encouraging more aggressive state energy efficiency policies
- Supporting building thermal decarbonization and electrification
- Aggregating demand for electric vehicles with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state targets for electric vehicles and GHG standards
- Promoting increased charging infrastructure
- Collaborate on climate and clean energy action, and to advocate for stronger climate policy at the local level
- Scaling initiatives to reduce methane from livestock and increase production of on-farm renewable energy
- Supporting adoption of state-level policies to reduce methane from upstream and midstream oil and gas operations
- Developing in measurement and monitoring systems to target efforts and track progress
- Encouraging states to adopt incentive programs for forest management, tree cover expansion, and soil health
- Promoting science-based targets for GHG emissions and removals in agricultural supply chains
- Aggregating demand for renewable energy with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state renewable energy policies
- Supporting states, cities, and utilities in decarbonizing their energy supply