Chapel Hill Mayor Commits to Paris Agreement

Post Date:06/02/2017 5:13 PM
PHOTO: Bridge on trail

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger is among 86 Mayors committing to upholding the Paris climate accord following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw U.S. participation.

The list of mayors is compiled by Climate Mayors (aka, Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, or MNCAA), a network of 92 U.S. mayors working together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting efforts for binding federal and global-level policy making.

Here are 10 Ways the Town of Chapel Hill is working to improve the environment:

  1. Carbon Reduction – The Town has been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for more than a decade. Efforts include reductions from Town operations (buildings, fleet, lighting, etc.) and the community at large (buildings, transportation). Data from the most recent inventory of operational emissions show a 6.7 percent decrease per capita below 2005 levels (the base year).  
  1. Green Building Development - Developers are encouraged to design projects that are “20 percent more energy efficient”, maximizing the potential for energy conservation and use of renewable energy. The Town is also piloting construction permitting fee rebates for projects that employ sustainable design principles targeting energy and water use.
  1. Walkable Redevelopment – The Town has been experimenting with various zoning strategies to encourage walkable redevelopment of existing, suburban commercial areas. Greater walkability can reduce vehicle trips and promote healthier lifestyles.
  1. Green Municipal Buildings - New or expanded Town government facilities are built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green building Rating System, approved by the U.S. Green Building Council. A recent example is the renovation and expansion of  the Town’s Library. The Town has also employed a guaranteed energy saving performance contract to reduce energy consumption in three of its largest facilities, with an expected energy reduction of over 20 percent for the entire buildings sector of the operation. The Town maintains rooftop solar arrays at various Town facilities, including Fire Station #1, the Library and the Town Operations Center.
  1. Alternative Transportation - Since 2002, the buses have been fare-free in Chapel Hill, offering more than 6.5 million rides a year. The Town was recently awarded grant funding from Duke Energy for the purchase and installation of an electric bus charging station at Chapel Hill Transit. The Manager’s recommended budget includes funding to lease a 40-foot electric bus in FY18. Staff will work with the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, or similar agency, to establish a process for analyzing the bus while in service, along with reviewing other reasonable alternatives (e.g. Compressed Natural Gas, Hydrogen, etc.) to include a recommendation(s) for future utilization within the Chapel Hill Transit fleet.

    Chapel Hill Transit’s bus replacement plan calls for purchasing (ordering) 19 buses in FY18. The emissions standards for bus diesel engines have changed significantly over the last decade: it would take around 20 of our newest buses to produce the same level of emissions as one (1) of the buses we are replacing.

    The Town has completed more than 23 miles of greenways and trails that allow pedestrians and bicyclists to quickly and safely access move around the town.
  1. Green Fleets - The Town has set high standards for obtaining energy efficient vehicles and to operate its fleets in a manner that is energy efficient and minimizes emissions. This includes use of alternative fuel and energy sources such as biofuels and electricity, which has resulted in a 15 percent reduction in emissions from fleet vehicles since 2005. In October 2014, the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition recognized the Town of Chapel Hill as a Champion Level "NC Smart Fleet" for its efforts to reduce petroleum usage.
  1. Community Emissions Reduction – Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Town offered a community-wide home energy savings program, resulting in annual community carbon reduction estimated at 665 metric tons across 365 completed projects.

    The Town of Chapel Hill offers same-day permitting for residential installations of electric vehicle charging stations. In most instances, this allows a licensed installer to apply for and receive an electrical permit within a 24-hour period.

    As a Plug-in NC member and to help promote clean transportation, four electric vehicle charging stations are available to the public and currently free of charge in the public parking level (P-1) of the underground garage at 140 West Franklin. (Note: users pay the standard rate to park in the garage). The Town of Chapel Hill was recently awarded grant funding from Duke Energy for the purchase and installation of two additional electric vehicle charging stations for public use.
  2. Tree Protection/Open Space – The Tree Protection Ordinance establishes a vision statement that calls for no net loss of trees/canopy cover and an increase in trees proportional to population growth.

    Residents of Chapel Hill have supported and helped the Council identify, protect and preserve green spaces and critical natural areas, now totaling more than 700 acres.
  1. Solar Energy - Recently, the Town--in partnership with Orange County and the Town of Carrboro -- applied for and received designation as a SolSmart community. The SolSmart program, funded through the US Department of Energy, recognizes and provides technical assistance to communities that have taken steps to grow the local solar market by making solar more affordable for residents and businesses, while also encouraging new economic development and jobs.
  1. Waste Reduction – In addition to being a partner in County-level waste diversion goals, supporting recycling and commercial composting, the Town has also collaborated to reduce and divert waste within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School cafeterias. A recent grant-funded project led by CHCCS will result in additional waste diversion (recycling, composting) from five local elementary schools, thereby further reducing emissions from waste.
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