Thursday, April 6, 2017

Washington state agencies are walking the talk on climate change

Washington state is dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help slow the impacts of climate change and state agencies are joining the effort. With direction from the state Legislature, state agencies are working with Ecology to monitor and reduce their emissions.

Reducing its carbon footprint is a priority for Washington State Parks

Solar-powered ticket station
Parks around the state are installing solar panels. Solar is heating water for bathhouses, powering Discover Pass ticketing stations, and lighting up entrance signs. These efforts are helping Washington State Parks reduce its carbon footprint and save money.

At Pearrygin Lake State Park in Eastern Washington visitors can enjoy a dip in the lake followed by a hot, solar-powered shower. The park estimates that the solar hot water system will eliminate about one ton of greenhouse gas emissions per
year for each 50 gallons of water heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to reducing emissions, the system is helping the park save money on energy costs.

Parks are also opting to use pedal power over fossil fuels. In 14 parks around the state, rangers and park staff are using bicycles for routine park duties. Campers at Millersylvania State Park in Thurston County may be greeted by a ranger patrolling on two wheels.

The investment in solar power and bicycles, along with other emission cutting strategies, are helping Washington State Parks reach its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emission.
Pearrygin Lake State Park solar-powered showers

Washington Legislature directs state agencies to track and reduce greenhouse gases

Washington State Parks along with other state agencies were directed by the Washington State Legislature in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and report these reductions to Ecology. This requirement is part of the State Agency Climate Leadership Act which sets a goal for agencies to reduce their emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, 36 percent below by 2035, and 57.5 percent below by 2050.

Each agency is required to come up with strategies to meet their reduction goals. The State Parks efforts have been extremely successful, even exceeding its reduction goals. The parks are required to reduce their annual emissions by 2,036 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020. The most recent report shows that in 2015 they have already reduced emissions by 5,013 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. 

On track to meeting our reduction goals

Washington state agencies are on track to meeting 2020 reduction targets. Reductions are coming from building improvements, employee commute trip reduction programs, upgrading to more efficient appliances, and other energy conserving strategies.

Climate change is a global problem and it will take a collaborative effort to slow its impacts. Washington state agencies are working together to be part of the solution. 

By Kerri Wilson, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist

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