Municipal Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are produced when the City uses energy in its building and vehicles, and when it creates and disposes of waste and wastewater. GHGs trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to lasting disruptions in our climate, such as higher temperatures, sea level rise, and more frequent extreme weather events that can cause flooding.
Cambridge has established a Municipal GHG reduction goal of 30% below 2008 levels by 2020, with a stretch goal of 35%.
There are six internationally tracked greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas (GHG) released by human activity. Other GHGs, such as methane, trap more heat than CO2, so we assign other gases a number that represents the amount of CO2 that would trap the same amount of heat as the other gases. Emissions from all GHGs calculated in this way is referred to as CO2e. The “e” stands for equivalent.
The City of Cambridge has reduced its GHG emissions 20% from its 2008 baseline. You can see in the graph on the left that emissions have fluctuated from year to year, but have generally trended downward.
Municipal GHG Emissions by Sector
We look at GHG emissions by sector to determine the amount of emissions produced by each sector and identify opportunities for reductions. Similar to the energy use profile, the City’s buildings and facilities are the largest source of emissions at 69%.
What This Chart Tells Us
Electricity and natural gas are the two primary fuel types that cause greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our municipal operations. This is not surprising given that buildings are our number one emitter. This pie chart also shows us where there are opportunities to improve. The City has learned a lot about how to be more efficient in our buildings and to integrate renewable energy into our facilities- demonstrated by the 20% reduction that has already been achieved.
Cambridge has reduced its GHG emissions by 20% since 2008 by decreasing energy use, switching to cleaner fuels, and reducing waste. You can learn more about Cambridge’s Municipal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory here.
Cambridge’s 2015 GHG emissions from municipal operations are equivalent to the GHG emissions from 4,840 passenger vehicles driving for one year.
Follow the City's Lead
Reduce Energy Use In Your Own Home
There are a lot of opportunities to reduce energy use in your own home, such as switching to LED lights, adding insulation, and buying an Energy Star water heater. MassSave has a lot of information on this topic. Check out this video to learn more about residential energy efficiencyMore Information
Switch to Renewable Energy
Programs are available for residents and businesses to install solar panels on their homes or offices – check out Mass.gov for technical and financial resources to help you go solar. If installing solar panels is not an option, you can purchase 100% renewable energy through the Cambridge Community Electric Program.More Information
Reduce your Waste by Recycling and Composting
- Inside Climate News
- Wicked Local
- Green Biz
- The Guardian