Columbus to participate in greenhouse gas emissions study

Columbus is one of 13 Indiana communities selected to collect information this summer about greenhouse gas emissions from its local government operations.

The inventory will be completed in conjunction with the Indiana University Resilience Cohort, a group of 13 Indiana communities that will all complete inventories this summer. The invitation to join the cohort was open to all Indiana communities that were interested.

As part of the cohort, the communities have access to technical resources, a peer network and training by a nonprofit specialist in emissions inventories.

Robin Hilber, city community development programs coordinator, said this is the first time Columbus has used a database to track greenhouse gas emissions from local government operations.

“We know there has been an impact on the environment, and we believe that greenhouse gases have caused more storms, more detrimental effects to the environment than have happened in the past,” Hilber said. “It continues to escalate, so we’d like to reduce our carbon usage if possible and have a lesser impact on the environment.”

The inventory process will provide 2016, 2017 and 2018 baseline data on the amount of energy consumed, the diversity of energy supplied to the grid, vehicle fuel use within the city and the amount of waste generated, among other data. The data will be stored in a web database called ClearPath, free of use to the participating communities.

City employees may use the findings to identify greenhouse gas reduction strategies and create an action plan to reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency and improve air quality.

Greenhouse gas inventories are a fundamental first step for Hoosier communities to combat climatic change, city officials said. These changes include heavier rainfalls, more river and flood events and more freeze-thaw events damaging infrastructure and potholes.

“The city of Columbus is known for being innovative and forward-thinking,” Mayor Jim Lienhoop said in a press release. “We want to address greenhouse gas emissions, create efficiencies in local government and encourage the same in our community.”

The city anticipates that the inventory collection will be ongoing, although the assistance and support for the Resilience Cohort is expected to end Sept. 15, 2019. Hilber said initial efforts to reduce waste will take place internally at the local government level, but the city would eventually like to roll out its action plan to the community.

Other Indiana communities part of the cohort include Bloomington, Carmel, Delaware County/Muncie, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Greencastle, Goshen, Michigan City, Oldenburg, Richmond and West Lafayette.

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The Indiana University Resilience Cohort is made up of 13 Indiana cities, towns and counties that will complete greenhouse gas emissions inventories this summer.

As part of the cohort, the communities have access to technical resources, a peer network and training through International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives-Local Governments for Sustainability, a nonprofit that specializes in helping local governments with emissions inventories.