Climate Change Comes to Bend

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The Bend City Council recently reviewed a proposed Climate Action Ordinance that included setting numerical goals for both city government and the community, developing a steering committee to devise a specific plan with hopes that it would lead to the City establishing a commission on climate change.
Presenters of the proposed ordinance included Mike Riley from the The Environmental Center, Nikki Roemmer of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Skylar Grayson with Youth Climate Action Now.
In brief the ordinance aims to set specific, measurable goals based on the best available science for both the City and the community as a whole: the entire city would become carbon neutral by 2030 and reduce fossil fuel use by 40 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050. It establishes a timeline for creating climate action plans, first for City government and then for the community, ensures public engagement in creating and implementing the action plans and directs the city manager to hire adequate staff to support development and implementation of the action plans.
The ordinance is proposed to be part of biennial budget development next year with a focus on gaining outside funding.
The policy framework is supported by Councilors Nathan Boddie, Barb Campbell, Doug Knight and Mayor Jim Clinton.
City council has now instructed city staff to return with an ordinance at the first meeting in July. Councilors Casey Roats, Campbell and alternating Knight/Boddie will participate on a subgroup.
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. Are you lost yet? In other words: it’s complicated and some question if the effort that goes into carbon neutrality actually makes a difference.
Carbon footprints are usually associated with transportation, energy production and industrial processes. Many of these footprints are already being negated in the Bend area via the Bend Energy challenge, use of solar energy and the Energy Trust of Oregon’s efforts to reduce energy in new construction projects with technical assistance and cash incentives.
What is your carbon footprint? It is the estimated amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) you contribute to the environment each year. Just counting and analyzing the emissions that need to be eliminated (who does it and how) and the options for doing so are a crucial step in the cycle. What operations and activities are creating carbon emissions, who is responsible for them and what types of gases should be identified. The EPA estimates that 27 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2008 came from transportation sources.
Some city councilors raised concerns about moving too quickly and not involving the business community earlier. Although organizers say they’ve been working on this for awhile, many in the business community felt they should have been included in discussions before presenting to city council. We agree. Forming partnerships, identifying funding for measuring efforts and identifying Bend’s climate change problems should be pursued before city council approves an ordinance.
The city hasn’t been able to solve its budgeting problem and fix our decaying roads. If they can’t do that, how can they take on climate change?
This city council does not have a good track record of spending tax revenues efficiently. The city could wind up spending money and time on a climate change program with staff and volunteers, but it actually won’t make any measurable difference in combating climate change.
However, there is no reason why the residents of the City of Bend shouldn’t take notice and do their part, if possible, in combating climate change.
Bend has already taken a major step in reserving energy use via the Bend Energy Challenge. This high profile community competition has the potential to drive the City towards a more sustainable future. Check out the website www.Bendenergychallenge.org and take the Pledge to reduce your energy use and help Bend win a $5 million prize.
It is especially important for businesses to take the Business Pledge to show support for our community’s involvement in the competition. You can upgrade office lighting with LED replacement bulbs, use thermostats wisely adjusting heat setting to 68 degrees maximum in winter and set AC settings to 78 degrees minimum in summer, maximize computer efficiency: use sleep mode and power management options, remove screensavers, turn computers, monitors, and peripherals off at night, use power strips to turn stuff off when not in use and at night, turn off lights when not in use and maintain HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment to not only save energy and money, but extend the life of your equipment.
Get an energy assessment of your building and act on it, improve building envelope first with air sealing, quality insulation and energy-efficient windows, upgrade to ENERGY STAR equipment and appliances which are at least 35 percent more efficient and change behavior so your business makes more efficient use of energy.
On the Energy Trust website developers, architects and builders are finding ways to manage energy use in existing space or design efficiency into new construction projects with technical assistance and cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon. Whether you’re a commercial business owner, design and construction professional or multifamily property manager, you can find opportunities for energy savings.
An offer from Energy Trust of Oregon is helping Oregon building owners design and construct some of the most energy-efficient new commercial buildings in the nation. Iron Horse Lodge in Prineville with an article in this issue is an example of a local company using Path to Net Zero.
Which brings us back to the climate change ordinance for the City of Bend. The intent is significant and the motives and goals are noteworthy. However, the city council should think cautiously about taking this issue on as another budget item before assessing the end results.

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