GOSHEN — A study on emissions is expected to help Goshen grapple with its newly adopted goal of becoming carbon neutral within 20 years.
The study looks at the biggest sources of carbon emissions in city government – from where its energy comes from to how much gas department vehicles use – and suggests ways to cut back. While council adopted its neutrality goal in April, city Forester Aaron Sawatsky Kingsley said the study actually began after the February 2018 flood.
He said the city was approached by a team from the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute, and Goshen was invited to join a greenhouse gas emissions inventory project involving several other communities. The university provided an intern, graduate student Bronson Bast, to conduct the study.
“Since the end of May, he’s been working with many folks across all departments in the city (who) have all been extremely helpful to us in gathering sets of data and putting them together in ways that we have never done before in this city,” Sawatsky Kingsley told city council Tuesday. “This is a first step for the city of Goshen, a unique first step, I liken it to the kind of audit that any business would in order to know how they are using their resources responsibly. That’s part of what comes out of this for us.”
In giving a summary of the study, Bast said it’s the first step in meeting the 2035 goal in the most cost-effective, transparent and accountable way possible.
He found that energy costs associated with fossil fuels totaled $866,000 in 2017, much of it used by traffic lights and street lights as well as vehicle fuel. He said they found a lot of opportunities to cut both costs and emissions, such as switching to LED street lights and replacing older, inefficient vehicles as needed, eventually with electric vehicles.
Bast provided a recommended timeline for cutting emissions by 2035, which included goals for certain years.
n Analyze buildings and vehicle fleet for potential emissions reductions that coincide with savings
n Identify solar energy potential
n Re-examine the economics of electric vehicles and electrification of building heating
n Plan to electrify most of the vehicle fleet and building heating
n Begin negotiating a 100 percent clean energy production procurement deal from NIPSCO
n Fully electrify buildings and vehicles with 100 percent clean energy
n Plant trees as an offset for emissions from wastewater treatment
The city plans to discuss the full report with municipal departments and then with the public over the next year, as it moves into creating the plan. Mayor Jeremy Stutsman also told council about plans to form a city department devoted to environmental issues, which may not require any new hires but just the transfer of Sawatsky Kingsley and an assistant from the parks department.
Stutsman remarked that not everybody has to do every part of the carbon reduction plan, but the more people who do what they can, the bigger the effects will be. He noted that he acknowledges climate change himself, but couldn’t be persuaded to give up meat.
“I am a believer in climate change, and I do believe humans are making that go faster and exacerbating everything,” he said. “But I’m gonna continue to argue with the community, with council, with everybody, that there are enough reasons for us all to want to get involved here that it doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change or not. Out budgets alone – the more we can save money, the better. And the nice thing about these projects is a lot of them save money, a lot of them help us with the climate. So pick your reason, and I think we can all work together.”