With Frederick government’s greenhouse gas emissions projected to increase by 12 percent by 2030, the city is considering a climate plan to reduce its carbon footprint.
The draft plan provides nine strategies for various city departments, which could reduce the city government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 53 percent from 2015 levels by 2030, according to the report.
The draft document was presented to the mayor and aldermen at a workshop Wednesday. The aldermen are expected to vote on the plan at a later date.
The city passed a climate emergency resolution in April 2020 that recognized the importance of addressing climate change at the local level.
In 2016, the city developed a sustainability plan to establish a more holistic approach to reducing emissions and adapt to climate change. The steps included an environmental purchasing policy, an infrastructure plan for plug-in electric vehicle charging and an electric vehicle readiness policy.
The proposed climate action plan includes government operations such as city buildings and facilities, streetlights and traffic signals, water and wastewater treatment plants, city fleet vehicles and non-fleet vehicles such as lawn mowers and construction equipment.
Purchased electricity was the largest source of emissions for the city, according to the report, producing 8,920 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015. Transportation was the second-largest source, and waste — whether emissions from solid waste from city operations, solid waste hauled by the city or wastewater treatment — was the third.
It’s assumed that as the city’s population grows in the coming years, its emissions will also increase, said Leslie Chinery of the consulting firm ICF, who is the project manager for the development of the plan.
The strategies include completing the city’s transition to LED streetlights, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient upgrades, installing renewable energy options such as solar power at city facilities, purchasing renewable energy credits, electrifying the city fleet, adopting a hybrid replacement program and expanding telecommuting opportunities.
Changes to the city fleet is where the city can “move the needle the most,” Chinery said.
The plan looks at three general areas of city operations, said Angela Wong of ICF: overall planning, land management and development, and capital planning.
As the city’s comprehensive and strategic plans get updated, they need to keep the climate plan’s goals in mind to make sure they’re factored in, Wong said. For example, if the city puts in a new generator, it could be put on an elevated platform to avoid damage from flooding, she added.
Mayor Michael O’Connor said the aldermen are committed to taking steps to make the plan a reality.
It’s hard to do something like this in one big step, O’Connor said, but the plan has broken it into many little steps that city departments can take to make it easier.