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Thurston County Activities Related to Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Thurston County Operations

Thurston County’s greenhouse gas inventory of government operations is a product of the Climate and Sustainability Program. Completed in May 2010, this inventory is a complete inventory of 2009 emissions.

Thurston County operations were responsible for over 17,000 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCDE) in 2009.

Detailed Emissions Reports

Intro to Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A brief introduction to terms and ideas related to climate science. Learn when the term “greenhouse effect” was coined and what a “MTCDE” is.
2009 Thurston County Operations Emissions
A detailed presentation of the greenhouse gas inventory; the same information given to the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners.
CRIS Report
Thurston County works with The Climate Registry, a nonprofit that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions. This CRIS report is a complete detailed report of 2009 Thurston County emissions inventory.

Emissions Sources

The largest sources of emissions for this inventory were:

  1. Electricity – The northwest is home to many hydropower dams, giving us some of the lowest per-kilowatt emissions in the country. However, we are home to one major coal-fired power plant, in Centralia, Washington - which provides 35% of the energy in our grid. The greatest energy user, by far, in County operations is the Courthouse Complex, which used 4.45 million kilowatt-hours in 2009.
  2. Landfill DecompositionThe Waste and Recovery Center on Hogum Bay Road is the home to nearly 100 years worth of Thurston County’s garbage. Although these landfills are capped and covered, their continued decomposition generate large amounts of methane.
  3. Employee Commuting – Commuting by County employees was estimated by WSDOT in conjunction with WSU Extension, based on state-mandated annual commuting surveys called Commute Trip Reduction.
  4. County Fleet Vehicles – The County-owned vehicles used nearly 540,000 gallons of fuel in 2009. This includes everything from Sheriff’s vehicles to maintenance trucks to construction vehicles. Passenger vehicles used the majority of fuel during 2009 operations.
  5. Natural Gas and Refrigerants – Although natural gas and refrigeration is the smallest source of Thurston County’s emissions, it is a significant sum. Again, the largest source of both natural gas and refrigeration consumption in 2009 was the County Courthouse Complex, using 43% of total natural gas and the vast majority of refrigerant use.

What is being done to reduce Thurston County’s carbon footprint?

The County has only begun to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It is now County policy to use greenhouse gas emissions as the ultimate measure of progress in climate action planning, and to work toward reducing annual emissions to zero. There are multiple projects happening now to address organizational sustainability at the County:

  • A Pathway to Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions - This resolution describes major goals for greenhouse gas reduction and details four main areas which the County wishes to address:
    • Greenhouse gas measurement and reporting: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. By maintaining up-to-date, accurate measurements of energy use and emissions the County can be clear about which strategies are most effective in reducing emissions. The goal is to integrate greenhouse gas data into all major operational decisions.
    • Energy conservation and efficiency of county facilities: Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective strategy for emissions reductions available today. Energy use by County facilities accounts for thousands of tons of emissions and a hefty bill to go with it. Every opportunity to be more efficient should be pursued.
    • County fleet vehicles: Emissions reductions can be achieved through participation in the Evergreen Fleets Program, addition of low- or no-emissions vehicles and reduction of miles traveled.
    • County employee commuting: Thurston County is home to award-winning transit agency, Intercity Transit, and County employees have only begun to take advantage of telecommuting and alternative commuting methods. By improving commuting patterns everybody wins: happier commutes, lower transportation costs and lower emissions.
  • Energy efficiency and lighting retrofit programs - The County is currently in the progress of energy and lighting retrofits of County facilities to achieve cost-effective energy savings.
  • Sustainability Policy - Thurston County's sustainability policy includes guidelines for environmentally preferable purchasing and the efficient use of energy in county operations. County departments also participate in a comprehensive in-house recycling program.
  • Sustainability Report - The county produces extensive annual sustainability reports that covering many topics, from purchasing to energy use and more.


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