The Carrboro Board of Aldermen convened on March 19 to discuss cost and implementation updates to their Community Climate Action Plan as well as their Energy and Climate Protection Plan.
Board member Sammy Slade said he’s asking a lot from town staff, despite their limited capacity, because addressing global climate change is becoming more critical and time-sensitive.
“We have to go above and beyond anything ever seen by humanity ever, so we all have to be super-people,” Slade said.
Laura Janway, the Town of Carrboro’s environmental planner, presented an update to the board, detailing the costs of proposed emission reduction plans outlined in Carrboro’s 2018 Community Climate Action Plan and summarized the effects of previous town efforts. The plan aims to reduce town emissions by 50 percent by 2025.
Janway said Carrboro reduced emissions by 14 percent over the last seven years, largely the result of the town’s switch from coal to natural gas as an electricity source.
Moving forward, the town plans to collaborate with Duke Energy in converting streetlights to LED lights. The four-week project to do so is scheduled to begin in May, costing $35,395, and will reduce emissions by an estimated 10 percent.
Janway said town staff are also working on a transportation demand survey in order to gather data regarding town commuting habits.
“With this data, we can use this to assess ways to change transportation habits and reduce vehicle miles traveled,” she said.
The CCAP also calls for a 50 percent reduction in building emissions, which would involve retrofitting existing buildings. The updated report estimates the total cost to retrofit municipal buildings as $706,000, while retrofitting residential and commercial buildings would cost the community approximately an additional $122,390,000.
The report announced that Chapel Hill Transit is currently in the process of purchasing two electric buses through a grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Currently most of CHT's fleet are using diesel fuel, according to the report.
The plan seeks to establish a Green Neighborhood Initiative in Carrboro, replicating a similar 2017 project by Cary through a $54,000 grant. The project would educate residents on how they can reduce their carbon footprint, promote collaboration between residents, track energy use and win awards for successful emission reductions.
“This Green Neighborhood Initiative is a way to connect people and create these groups where people can work together on emission reduction initiatives in their communities, connect and build a sense of community and also participate in a little bit of friendly competition in order to pursue environment emission projects,” Janway said.
Janway said establishing data and costs per emission reduction has been essential to prioritizing climate action projects moving forward.
“Now that we’ve started to quantify and look at how each recommendation might impact our larger scale emissions, we can come up with paths to success,” Janway said.
She said if the town succeeds in composting and idling reduction goals, it would only need to reduce building and transportation emissions by 39 percent, rather than 50 percent.
Slade also said the board must continue to update its implementation plan as the research around climate change evolves.
“You can do a Google search, and every day there’s a worse description of what the (climate) goals are,” Slade said. “As of yesterday, for example, they speak to needing to reduce to zero global emissions by 2030.”
Slade said the Carrboro Environmental Advisory Board has been responding to development review projects, but called for a dedicated body of residents to oversee implementation of such projects.
“All that to say that we really need to step it up as a community,” Slade said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.