How to: Local Greenhouse Gas Inventories
Recommended Inventory Tools
Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory tools are designed to assist in data collection, processing, and reporting. Inventory tools range from relatively simple spreadsheets to complex interactive web-based systems.
The Local Government Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool
The Local Government Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool is an Excel-based tool that walks the user through a step-by-step process of entering the data needed to quantify emissions from government operations. This GHG Accounting Tool enables local governments to inventory GHG emissions for a baseline year and create a business-as-usual projection of emissions in 2020. The tool will only operate properly using Microsoft® Excel 2007 or later. The user's guide for this GHG Accounting Tool is posted at right.
Developed for Climate Smart Communities, the Local Government Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool is available for free from the Office of Climate Change. The tool follows the Local Government Operations Protocol (LGOP), the national standard for GHG inventories for emissions from municipal operations.
The Climate Smart Communities webinar series included a March 13, 2014 session on "Support for Local Greenhouse Gas Inventories." A PDF of the slides is available on the webinar page. Another version of this Local Government Operations Greenhouse Gas Inventory presentation is available, with its audio.
The Community Module of the EPA's Local Greenhouse Gas Inventory Tool
The Community Module of the EPA's free Local Greenhouse Gas Inventory Tool* is recommended for performing a community-level accounting of all GHG emissions, including both municipal operations emissions and emissions from other sources within the borders of a given municipality.
ClearPath: An ICLEI USA Tool
ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA, Inc.* has produced a comprehensive GHG tool called ClearPath* for completing GHG inventories, forecasts, climate action plans, and monitoring at the community-wide or government operations scale. ClearPath is an integrated cloud-based platform that allows the user to estimate current and future emissions and carry out analyses to determine the right mix of policies to manage energy use and meet emissions reduction goals. Membership in ICLEI, which involves an annual fee based on municipal size, includes access to ClearPath.
Greenhouse gas inventory protocols ensure that local inventories are accurate and appropriate to for setting policies and evaluating progress. GHG inventories should include the same types of entities, measure comparable quantities (such as fuel or electricity use), and use standard conversion factors to calculate GHG emissions from energy use and report results in the same set of categories. A GHG inventory protocol sets out "rules" about these and other issues that promote comparability and consistency. Note that these are protocols only, and are not software tools that can be used to collect and process inventory data.
Local Government Operations Protocol (LGOP)
The Local Government Operations Protocol* details a policy framework, calculation methodologies, and reporting guidance for quantifying GHG emissions from local government operations. The LGOP was developed by ICLEI and The Climate Registry in collaboration with the California Climate Action Registry and the California Air Resources Board, and may be downloaded for free.
Protocol for Community GHG Inventories
The U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Protocol* (Community Protocol) is the national standard for measurement and reporting of community GHG emissions, including municipal operations and other sources. It provides the most current methodologies and best practices for GHG emissions measurement.
Reporting the Results of GHG Inventories
The Climate Registry
For those communities that are ready to take a very close look at their GHG emissions and report them publicly, the Climate Smart Communities program endorses membership in The Climate Registry. The Climate Registry* (TCR) is a non-profit membership organization whose goal is setting consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report GHG emissions into a single registry. TCR requires the most rigorous calculation methodologies, and has the highest standards for data quality.