Jun 21 2021

OPINION: Piedmont Greenhouse Gases and Pool Development

– Need for more action, Climate Action Committee, net zero carbon Pool  –

City Council: The report on the 2019 Green House Gas (GHG) Inventory is alarming for two reasons. First there has been virtually no change in city’s GHG emissions from 2018 to 2019 which indicates the city is not making progress towards the reduction targets. Second, the inventory indicates the transition to renewable energy provided by EBCE will not provide sufficient GHG reduction for the city to meet those targets.

The report shows the only way for Piedmont to achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets is through reduction (and possibly elimination) of the use of natural gas and the transition to electric vehicles.

The report may lead some to suggest there has been progress in that the GHG contributions of the residential sector have been reduced as a percentage of Piedmont’s total GHG emissions (figure 2 from the GHG report). That change is based solely on the assumption that all electricity currently provided to Piedmont from EBCE is renewable.

The reductions assigned to in the residential and municipal facility sectors in the 2019 GHG report have yet to be achieved although it may be appropriate to account for them at this time. Doing so now means that the City will achieve no further GHG reductions through ECBE’s greening of the grid and will need to find reductions in other ways.

This is evident in Figure 17 (from Attachment A) – electricity emissions are now essentially zero while natural gas emissions have gone unchanged for 3 years now. EBCE renewable energy has produced a reduction of only 2000 MT.

There is much greater reduction to be achieved through natural gas. This “reduction” in the residential sector may also lead some to think we need to focus instead on transportation. While transportation is important, market forces are driving the adoption of EV’s and in fact the city can do very little to affect this change. Instead, the City needs to focus on reducing the community sector GHG emissions through more REACH Codes, incentives and bans on use of natural gas in new construction and residential additions. On this last point, the City is in an excellent position to lead by example for the community.

Adoption of EV’s in the municipal fleet would be a visible statement by the city on its commitment to reducing GHG. But a city action of even greater relevance would be the building of a net zero carbon pool. The current pool is the largest municipal user of natural gas in the city and the conceptual design for the new pool will at least double that usage.

During the upcoming public engagement on the pool design, the city should advocate for a ZNC pool and provide designs and cost estimates of a ZNC pool during the public process. It is a stated goal of CAP 2.0 for the City to have net zero carbon operations by 2050.

Finally, staff suggests Council consider the establishment of Climate Action Committee to provide technical advice to the City on implementing the CAP and to serve as a liaison to the community. Virtually every other Bay area municipality has done this. Given that the city’s GHG reduction has stalled, innovative ideas will need to be vetted and Piedmont as a wealth of energy expertise that can assist staff. And as we saw with the REACH codes, the community wants these new proposals from staff presented at public hearings and a Climate Action Committee would provide that venue. Give direction to staff to report back to Council with concepts for such a committee in the near term.


Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

3 Responses to “OPINION: Piedmont Greenhouse Gases and Pool Development”

  1. One piece of “low hanging fruit” would be for Piedmont to enforce its existing ban on gas powered leaf blowers. Besides being noisy and disruptive, these blowers are pollutants. Start by publicizing the ban, and follow with warnings.

  2. All the information, resources, and recommendations Piedmont needs to meet our 2030-2050 goals are in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory report. Now all we need is the COMMITMENT and WILL to get it done. Creating a Sustainability Commission of talented, technically savvy Piedmonters would motivate action.

  3. The electric companies are regularly pushing to deincentivize rooftop solar. They are lobbying at the state legislature, and at the PUC. They attempt to describe people with rooftop solar as elitists who don’t deserve any incentives, tax credits or net metering. Continued diligence is necessary.

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