On Monday, the Office of Environmental Quality released two new reports: Alexandria’s State of the Air Report: Past, Present, and Future and the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Criteria Air Pollutant Emission Inventory. Some of the highlights from the State of the Air Report include ambient air monitoring, criteria air pollutant emissions, and GHG and climate change. Ozone concentrations are 1/4 of levels recorded in 1962 and “the number of days with unhealthy ozone air quality has decreased from an average of 12 days per year to just 3 days in 2006/2007.” What a remarkable achievement for the Commonwealth’s oldest air pollution control program!
The City has awakened to the threats GHG pose to our city and nation. In 2008 the City joined the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). The City is using software and methodologies to create GHG inventory. By cataloguing the City’s and commuity’s GHG contribution, Alexandria is taking the first step toward reducing its GHG emissions by identifying the largest emitters of GHGs and highlighting trends, which will help policymakers in the decision-making process. Reducing GHG emissions will also cause collateral benefits like improved public health (saving taxpayer lives and money) and increased energy efficiency (which could reduce petrodollars from leaving the country and enriching the governments of Iran, Russia, and Venezuela).
Check out the reports for more information about the City’s improving air quality, especially its efforts to combat fine particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and reduce GHGs.
Although overall air quality is improving (if one does not factor in GHG), there is only so much the City can do because it’s operations constitute approximately 3% of the total emissions from the community as a whole. That means 97% of Alexandria’s emissions come from residents, businesses, organizations, and commuters. In 2005 (the baseline year) the City determined that 2.6 million metric tonnes of emissions came from the community, but only 79,820 metric tonnes came from the City.
Here is a breakdown of the largest GHG emissions sources in Alexandria:
- 43% – on-road vehicles
- 36% – commercial buildings
- 16% – residential buildings
Needless to say, if Alexandria wants to achieve its GHG reduction targets (which mirrors the recommendations set forth in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments National Capital Region Climate Change Report) of 10% by 2012, 20% by 2020, and 80% by 2050, a commitment to reduce GHG emissions from residents and businesses is indispensable to our community’s success.
What do you think you can do to reduce GHGs and/or improve air quality? (Here’s a hint from zee Germans: “In a German Suburb, Life Goes on Without Cars“.