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Monday March 27th

Carrboro Town Council discusses updates to climate plans

<p>An electric car charges at one of Carrboro's new EV charging stations on Feb. 8, 2022. The charging station, located at the Carrboro Plaza, was installed in 2021 as part of the town's Community Climate Action Plan initiatives.</p>
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An electric car charges at one of Carrboro's new EV charging stations on Feb. 8, 2022. The charging station, located at the Carrboro Plaza, was installed in 2021 as part of the town's Community Climate Action Plan initiatives.

The Carrboro Town Council received an update on the implementation of the Energy and Climate Protection Plan and Community Climate Action Plan on Tuesday.

The council heard a presentation from Environmental Planner Laura Janway on the implementation of the ECPP and CCAP. 

The main issues discussed in the presentation were the implementations of the two plans, including a draft fleet study scope and a draft dietary greenhouse gas emissions inventory. 

Under the ECPP, Carrboro discussed two Orange County Climate Action Grant proposals — a green roof and solar panel array on the west roof of the 203 Project that was partially funded and a part-time staff member to monitor the organics collection at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market that is fully funded. 

Janway said the Town has also been working to make town events more sustainable, such as using items like reusable decorations at the Libba Cotten Day celebration on Jan. 5. 

“That's something that I think is important to note, that we're trying to look at all town operations and make everything as sustainable as we can,” Janway said.

As part of the CCAP update, Janway presented a study on dietary greenhouse gas emission. Among the recommendations to reduce emissions are eating organic foods and limiting meat consumption, though Carrboro is already slightly above the national average of vegetarians.

The town is also seeking design and installation options for solar energy at five locations, which consist of The 203 Building, Fire Station 1, Century Center, Public Works and Anderson Community Park.

Janway also presented a draft scope of an alternative fuel analysis for the town fleet, which currently includes 105 vehicles. The ECPP's current goal is to reach an 80 percent reduction in 2010 emissions levels by 2030. 

“We anticipate that we'll be looking at electric vehicles to help us meet our goals,” Janway said. “However, we wanted to make sure that we included other fields as well, including potentially working with OWASA on a partnership to use renewable biogas or also looking at hybrid vehicles or potentially biofuels if these are options that could help us meet our goals.”

Janway said the analysis looks not only at vehicles, but at all town equipment that uses fossil fuels, such as mowers, chainsaws and leaf blowers. The analysis also looks at the infrastructure needed for a shift toward renewable energy and projected maintenance for alternative-fueled vehicles, which may require extra training to work on in-house. 

"My question is as we transition over to these alternative fuel vehicles, I wasn’t sure how this would work with maintenance,” Mayor Pro Tem Susan Romaine said. “I assume that the maintenance for our vehicles right now is mostly done in-house, and as we transition, will those same folks doing the maintenance have the skills and the training they need to continue to be able to do it in-house, or will they need additional training?”

There have also been several improvements made under the CCAP. The Climate Action Team had its first meeting in November and have met twice since. They plan to review a draft Environmental Sustainability Work Plan for 2022-2023 later this month. 

Carrboro is also finalizing the installation of two new electric vehicle charging stations set to fully operational by March, Janway said. The stations are located in the Rosemary Lot in downtown Carrboro and at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The town is also conducting a Geographic Information Systems analysis to find and prioritize the best locations for future EV charging stations when funding is available. 

Projects related to ecosystem protection and enhancement include invasive species removal events and programming, an Eagle Scout project focused on planting trees in Anderson Community Park and renewing the town’s commitments for Bee City USA and the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.

During questions, council member Barbara Foushee raised the issue of the impacts of climate change on historically-marginalized communities. 

She noted several issues that impacted underrepresented groups in Chapel Hill, including Rogers-Eubanks neighborhood, a historically Black community, that has been impacted by contaminated wells and air pollution, in addition to UNC’s coal-burning power plant that sits near several historically Black communities.

“Solving the climate crisis is about much more than just reducing pollution,”Foushee said. “It's about boosting resiliency in vulnerable communities, because Black and brown communities will bear the brunt of this as we do it.”


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