Greenhouse Gas Inventory
2018 City of Boca Raton Greenhouse Gas Inventory
In 2018 the City of Boca Raton generated 983,054 MTCO2e
Community Wide Emissions
Community-wide the largest source of emissions was Transportation and Mobile sources (36.3%) followed by Commercial (35.1%) and Residential (24.3%) energy use. Smaller sources of emissions resulted from solid waste (1.8%), water and wastewater treatment (1.3%), and industrial energy (1.1%).
City Operations Emissions
Emissions related to City operations represented approximately 7% of the community-wide emissions. Much like community wide emissions, the City’s emissions related to energy use (Buildings and Facilities 59%, Water and Wastewater treatment 24%, street lights and signals 2%) and transportation (Vehicle fleet 9%, Employee Commute 6%).
Business as Usual Forecast
The City’s population is anticipated to continue to grow thereby increasing the vehicle miles traveled and energy used within the City. Assuming no new changes (business as usual), emissions from the City will continue to rise. The below forecast shows emissions through 2050 with business as usual. The projected initial small decrease in emissions is a result of Florida Power and Light’s stated goals for expanding solar generation, however, those reductions may not be available to the City resulting in steadily increasing emissions above those shown here. In order to meet the targets set out in the City’s Sustainability Action Plan for 2025 and beyond (red line, steadily declining), strategies will need to be put in place to reduce emissions from major sectors. Further strategies will be necessary at the individual, City, and Federal levels to meet the goal of net-zero by 2050 called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2018).
What does it all mean?
GHG emission equivalencies
Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent is not a measure that all of us have at the ready in our minds, so what does this all mean? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a helpful tool called the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator to help put it in perspective.
For example, to reduce GHG emissions by 15% would mean a reduction of 146,458 MtCO2e. That is equivalent to each of the following:
- Electricity use from 26,785 average homes,
- 370 million miles driven by an average passenger car, or
- 2.5 million tree seedlings grown over 10 years.
As another example, our Tree Canopy Assessment found that the City's tree canopy absorbs 19,148 mtCO2 annually, or about 2% of the total community wide emissions. This is equivalent to each of the following:
- Electricity use from 3,478 average homes,
- 48 million miles driven by an average passenger car, or
- 814,725 bags of waste recycled instead of landfilled.
Actions to reduce emissions
Why should the City of Boca Raton reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
With its coastal location in Florida, the City of Boca Raton is vulnerable to many impacts of climate change including high heat, rainwater flooding, tidal flooding, and storm surge, among others. The City recently completed a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) as part of a regional partnership, the Coastal Resiliency Partnership of Southeast Palm Beach County. The CCVA identified the climate threats faced by the City and region, assessed vulnerability and risk to those threats, and suggests adaptation strategies that can be taken by the City of Boca Raton or as a region.
While we prepare for and adapt to climate change, it is important that we are also doing the work to mitigate the root causes, namely emissions of greenhouse gases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determined that to stay below 1.5°C warming, global emissions must be reduced 45% from a 2010 baseline by 2030 and be net zero by 2050. While many of the policies and technologies to achieve those goals will come from higher levels, there is much that can be done locally.
Aside from concern for climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions has many benefits to the community. Some of the climate co-benefits from the largest three sectors include but are not limited to the following:
- Improved local air quality and associated health benefits.
- Reduced water pollution from runoff of motor oil.
- Improved transit systems providing mobility to vulnerable populations.
- Better walking and biking infrastructure resulting in improved health and reduced traffic related mortality.
- Commercial and Residential Energy
- Reduced energy costs related to efficiency.
- More job opportunities in the solar and renewable energy industry.
- On-site energy systems providing post-storm recovery benefits.
How is the City planning to reduce emissions?
The City’s Sustainability Action Plan outlines the City’s strategies and goals for sustainability, many of which will have the result of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Build Green City Facilities. Green certified City facilities, such as the Downtown Library, save the City on electricity and water usage as well as provides a safe and healthy facility for staff and residents.
- Green the Fleet. Electric vehicles have many advantages for a city fleet, not the least of which is that they save money over their lifetime. EVs and electric auxiliary equipment produce fewer pollutants, improving the health of our staff and residents. After hurricanes and during other power outages EVs can be used as generators. The City also requires electric vehicle chargers for new parking lots and provides EV chargers to the public. Learn more on the City’s website.
- Increase Solar PV. The City has improved the permitting processes in order to make solar energy more affordable and accessible and as recognition of the effort have been awarded the SolSmart Silver designation.
- Increase Tree Canopy. The City’s Community Appearance Board continues to require and promote canopy trees in new and re-development and the Beautification Team adds and cares for trees on City property. Additionally, the City has hosted tree give away events and promotes Sustainable Tree Maintenance. Review the Tree Canopy Assessment for more information on the City's tree canopy and goals.
What can residents and employers do to help reduce emissions?
Emissions from government operations represent approximately 7% of the total emissions in the City. Residents and businesses alike have a large role to play in reducing emissions overall.
- Install Solar PV. Learn more on the City’s Go Solar page.
- Increase your energy efficiency. Have an energy audit conducted at your home or office to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and save money, start with FP&L's Energy Manager program. Commercial property managers can track and benchmark energy usage through the EPA’s Portfolio Manager program.
- Protect tree canopy. Make sure that your trees are protecting your home and resilient to hurricanes by following the guidance of the City’s Sustainable Tree Maintenance program.
- Walk and bike more. Ride your bike on the 84 miles of bike lanes and trails in the City, know how far your favorite destinations are with the wayfinding signs and walking tours of Downtown, and request a sidewalk in your neighborhood. Learn more about walking and biking in Boca Raton on the Bicycles and Pedestrian page.
What about other emissions?
This Greenhouse Gas inventory measured emissions that are generated within the City’s limits and directly attributable to actions taken within the City. Emissions related to miles traveled or electricity used are relatively easy to measure. More difficult to measure are the emissions generated indirectly and/or outside of the City’s boundaries as a result of consumption that occurs within the City. While these emissions are not easily measured as part of a municipal greenhouse gas inventory, they are an important factor in global emissions. Although we have not measured these emissions here, there are things that individuals can do to reduce emissions related to consumption.
- REDUCE FOOD WASTE. Globally, the world wastes about a third of the food that is produced. This is even greater in the United States. If food waste were a country it would be the third largest GHG emitter after the US and China (UN FAO). For tips on reducing your food waste, visit the USDA’s food loss and waste page. If you do end up with food to throw away, don’t forget to put it to good use through composting!
- EAT MORE PLANTS. One of the biggest impact changes an individual can make to reduce personal emissions is to reduce meat consumption. Learn more from the How to Grow and Eat a Climate Diet webinar. Meat, beef in particular, has a larger environmental footprint than other forms of agriculture. The typical American eats more protein than is recommended and it is possible to get complete protein without animal products. Learn more about the impact of diet on climate through this interactive page from the New York Times (tip: get free access through the Boca Library!) and get information about the health benefits of eating less meat and great meatless recipes from Meatless Monday.
- KEEP THINGS LONGER. Everything we buy has embedded energy and environmental impact. The longer we keep and use things the better for the environment. Instead of replacing something worn out or broken, fix or refurbish it instead. If there is an item for which you no longer have a need find it a new home by selling, donating, or trading it. If you are able, invest in furniture, appliances, clothes and other items that are high quality and designed to last. The biggest thing you can do to reduce the impact of your "stuff" is to simply buy less of it.
- TRAVEL SMARTER. Traveling is an enjoyable experience but it can unfortunately come with a high environmental impact. There are a lot of ways to reduce that impact. For work related travel, 2020 introduced a greater familiarity with virtual meeting platforms helping reduce the need for in person meetings. Air travel is the most climate intensive way to travel so when choosing vacations try to pick destinations in driving distance or purchase offsets for your air miles.
What else can be done?
One great source of optimism regarding climate action is Project Drawdown. The Project’s comprehensive website and book (available at the Boca Raton Library) catalogues solutions that will not only stop rising atmospheric carbon levels but start to bring them back down. All the solutions in the book and on the website are based on existing and scalable technologies.
For more information on climate change:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): https://www.noaa.gov/climate
- NASA: https://climate.nasa.gov/
- National Climate Assessment: https://www.globalchange.gov/