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Summit County Sustainability Report Shows Progress And Potential Areas For Improvement

The Summit County council received their annual sustainability report on Wednesday. The report touched on topics from the county’s landfill to its vehicle fleet.

The report was presented by county sustainability director Lisa Yoder.

As council chair Kim Carson noted, one interesting item was that the majority of the county’s emissions come from its landfill.

“That’s something that’s tough for us because we don’t have control over (…) what goes into the landfill.” Carson continued “But we can create programming to divert as much as we can from going in. And then, look at (…) different ways to process what’s there.”

Meanwhile, they’re still looking at their public buildings and vehicle fleet to figure ways of curbing their carbon footprint.

“We need to look at our buildings and make sure that our buildings are as efficient as possible. (…) We’ve already gone a long ways in changing (our transportation fleet) to all electric vehicles, or at least hybrid where appropriate.” Carson said “Even some of the larger vehicles, we’ve moved to hybrid. In fact, I know the sheriff is driving one. At first, he (said) ok this thing’s going to probably not give me the power I want, but at the lead of this organization I need to set an example. And (now) he loves it.”

Carson said on Wednesday that she wants to re-evaluate some of their programs aimed at energy efficiency.

“There were a couple of programs that weren’t able to be instituted. I think we just need to take a look at those and say, ‘is this still a priority?’ Look at where we will get the biggest bang for the buck.”

One of those items, is the county’s objective to get more energy-effective construction into new buildings. Although, Carson said they can’t require it in the building code.

“We are constrained by law. But we could, I hope, provide some incentive. (…) I think at least if we can provide the education for people that are developers, and those that are looking at building a home. Let them know what’s available out there as far as technology, that can reduce their emissions. For me, I see that as still a priority area.”

Finally, one anomaly is an increase in the energy used for street lights and traffic lights. Carson said its minuscule part of their energy picture, but they don’t know why it’s happening.

“We’re not sure. Lisa discovered that, but she hasn’t had the time to go in and figure out why. The thing is, that contributes less than 1% of our overall emissions. It’s a very small amount even though it increased by 15%.” Carson speculated on the cause “It could be because of some of the new electronics available (that allows) busses to change lights. We really don’t know the answer to that, but she’ll be looking into it.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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