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Local Greenhouse Gas Inventories

Start with Local Government Operations

After adopting the pledge, most Climate Smart Communities begin by conducting an inventory of the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from their own government operations. As a second step, localities can move forward by expanding their inventories to include emissions from the community at large. The How-to page recommends tools for conducting GHG inventories.

GHG inventories provide the basis for successful emissions reduction. With an inventory, a community can set a target for reducing emissions, identify its options and mold an effective local climate action plan for improvements that also can save energy and taxpayer dollars. Inventory updates demonstrate the community's progress in reducing GHG emissions, and reveal any mid-course correction needed to stay on target. Many communities find annual updates to their municipal operations inventories useful, while community inventories can be updated less frequently, e.g., every three to five years.

Nearly all of New York's GHG emissions come from three sectors: transportation (34 percent of total CO2e), residential, commercial and industrial buildings (38 percent), and power supply and delivery (23 percent). Most of the remaining 5 percent of emissions result from agricultural activities and waste management. A detailed statewide GHG emissions inventory is available as a supporting document to the 2009 New York State Energy Plan [link at right].

Conducting a Local Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory

Local governments can inventory GHG emissions from their own operations only, or can seek to account for all GHG emissions within their boundaries.

  • Municipal or operational inventories represent an accounting of the GHG emissions associated with local government operations, such as utility usage in government buildings and street lighting, or fuel consumption in municipal vehicle fleets and solid waste management activities.
  • Community inventories count both municipal government emissions and emissions from other sources within the municipal borders. Typically counted in a community inventory are utility and heating fuel usage by non-municipal buildings, transportation fuels consumed by vehicles traveling through the municipality, and emissions associated with wastes generated by community residents (even if the wastes are disposed outside the municipality).

To identify opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, the local inventory must be accurate and must support the full scope of the community's climate protection goal. In addition to the inventory of existing emissions, some communities also develop business-as-usual emission forecasts that provide further benchmarks for planning and for monitoring progress.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory Resources

GHG emissions inventory protocols ensure that local inventories are accurate and appropriate to meet each community's needs and that they use consistent methods.

The CSC program has in place four regional Climate Smart Community coordinators who are available to provide direct assistance to CSCs within their regions as they conduct their greenhouse gas inventories. Each contractor has developed a regional greenhouse gas inventory for the entire region it serves (see each CSC Coordinator's regional webpage). A fifth CSC contractor is available to provide indirect inventory assistance to communities outside the pilot regions and coordinate regional greenhouse gas inventory efforts conducted under both the Climate Smart Communities and Cleaner, Greener Communities regional sustainability planning programs.

More about Local Greenhouse Gas Inventories:

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