Local Approaches for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Portland Story
November 29, 2007 | Susan Anderson talked about how Portland, Oregon has set the example on how to be a sustainable city.
Welcome to the next in the series of Wrigley lectures that we've been having this year. I'm John Fink, the Director of the Global Institute of Sustainability. And it's my pleasure today to introduce Susan Anderson from the city of Portland. And those of us who have been in Phoenix for a long time have an interesting relationship with Portland. It's always set up as the anti-Phoenix or vice versa.
And there's a lot of lessons, I think, that we've all felt that we can learn from Portland. Part of the question is how much of what goes on there is translatable to other settings that don't have whatever the special characteristics of Portland are. And Susan is probably the ideal person to talk with us about that. Her title is Director of the Office of Sustainable Development in Portland. And probably you're one of the first people in the country to have a title like that, I would imagine.
In Portland, as many of you know, in the early '90s, it was one of the first places to say that they were going to try to get a handle on the carbon footprint and carbon CO2 emissions from the city. And so they adopted their own plan for dealing with global climate change, global warming. And then as the rest of the world has kind of caught up with that thinking, they're trying to stay up with it and stay ahead of it. And so Susan has had other jobs in that area working with the Department of Energy before her current position in Oregon and has been a consultant involved with this planning.
She has degrees from UC Santa Barbara and University of Oregon. And today, she's going to talk to us about building sustainable energies. Susan?
Great, thanks. So good afternoon. Wake up, everybody. You awake? Late in the day-- you all know how it goes.
So I was invited here by Thad, who maybe some of you know him. I don't know how all of you are in the same classes together. And he guaranteed that it was in June. He said, yeah, come in November because then you get a little bit of sun.
So one of the things that is obviously the same between Portland and Phoenix is the weather because today it's now been proven that, indeed, it's almost the same as it is at home right now. So I was thinking about this class, and I was thinking, a few days ago, I actually did the same kind of thing in Santa Barbara. And I was going back to when I was in school, and I got degrees in environmental science and another degree in economics and another degree in planning. And so of this group here, how many of you would you say are related to sort of the environmental science sort of area? So not very many.
How about economics and policy and business? Engineering? I'm trying to figure out who y'all are. Wow, you're all different. And what's left?
Planning. Planning-- all right. What is planning? Oh, all right.
The anti-environment-- well, maybe it is. Well, when I went to school back then, I was in an environmental studies program originally. And my parents were like, what is that? That's not a real thing.
And so I said, OK, OK, I'll get another major at the same time. So I got a second major in business and economics, and they thought that was really good. And so I'd go the environmental classes.
And in those classes, you would learn that science is the baseline for all decision making, and that natural science and ecology should be used as a base for all the important things that happen in the world. And then I would two hours later go to an economics class, where the whole idea that people are rational beings, and they will make rational decisions. And that you know economics is the basis for all decision making.
And then I got out of school and went into the real world and learned that politics is actually the only thing that actually makes any difference. And so I encourage you, as you go through the studies that you're doing-- and I'm kind of saying that in jest, but I'm really, really meaning it. And as you work, whether it's in the private sector or the public sector in the future, that the facts do matter. The economics and business facts matter.
And the natural science-- is global warming real? Is there really air pollution? Is there really water quality issues or water conservation issues? And those things are very real, but you'll often find that the politicians won't listen, and that it's really, really important to translate the knowledge that you're all getting here in a way that they will listen to you and market it in a way that makes it important.
And so that's kind of the lesson I've learned after getting out of school and working for all these years is that it's not often what you know. It's how you marketed it, and how you presented it. And a lot of that I learned because I got out of school. I go after graduate school. So I went and got another degree.
And then my first job, of course, was waitressing, and then all the other things you do when you get out of school and can't find a job. And so for a year, I worked for a marketing firm and because that was what I could do. I could write well. I learned how to write seven-word sentences. I learned how to take complex information and put it into a way that people understand.
And so that's the other part is a lot of times, we get out of school, and I really just think it's important that people have an understanding for how to communicate all this really important knowledge that you're all gaining.
So I'm going to talk a little bit today about sustainability from a local government perspective and talk about what's going on in Portland related to this kind of broad idea of sustainability. And more particularly, to the issue of global warming and global climate change-- excuse me. First of all, let me tell you a little bit about my office. It's called the Office of Sustainable Development. It's not called the Office of Sustainability because that sort of makes people think it's like a hippie sort of sustainability thing that no one really knows what that means.
And the whole idea of adding development to it gave it sort of some strength and purpose and connected it to like economic development and things that people took seriously. And literally, seven years ago, one, you couldn't say the word sustainability because no one knew what it meant. And it's a really long word with a lot of syllables, and everybody in this room would define it differently.
And so what we did was we took some key programs in the city related to energy efficiency, green building, and sustainable construction practice, all of the solid waste and recycling programs, and several other environmental programs and regulatory things related to electric utilities and natural gas utilities. And we put those things in one place, along with some other environmental programs.
In recent years, we've sort of added on this whole idea of sustainable economic development and looking at how all of this work we've done over the past literally since the late '70s in the Portland area has ended up creating a lot of jobs. And so there's a whole industry related to a lot of my friends, who used to work in firms with 30 architects, now have 120 doing green building and sustainable architecture all over the world. And it's kind of because they started doing it in Portland to meet some local-- either voluntary or regulatory kind of things they had to do to be in Portland. And the environmental movement kind of transformed into an economic development program. So I'm going to talk a little bit about how the local level and local government can really make a difference on the issue of climate change, in particular.
So this building there in the middle is where our office is at. We're in with a bunch of other environmental organizations, predominantly. And it's a LEED Gold building that's about 120 years old.
So how many of you have been to Oregon or to Portland? So like most of you. But for those of you who haven't, I have to do this when I go out of town. The Chamber of Commerce makes me do this. So I'm going to give you a little tour.
So that's the Columbia River. It's gorgeous. We have great rivers-- rivers all over the place. A little different-- that is a little different than Phoenix. The Crater Lake-- so we have a lot of rivers, a lot of lakes, the Pacific--
Audience member: That's not Portland.
No, I said Oregon. OK, how many here are actually from Portland or have lived in Portland? Ooh, oh-oh. So I can't make stuff up because you guys will keep me honest.
So this is the Pacific Ocean. Again, not in Portland but an hour from Portland to the west. Mt. Hood and the Cascades are an hour to the east with great opportunities for skiing and snowboarding, great rafting-- my personal favorite. Incredible fish and nature and salmon throughout-- that actually could be in Portland. There are salmon in the river.
These are vineyards right outside the urban growth boundary, which I'll talk a little bit about later. And so there's these incredible different natural resources in the community and just outside. We like to play in Portland. We like to party. We like to eat, and we like to walk and stroll.
And these are some of our farmers markets in town. So the city is a really vibrant city right downtown but right behind us, always in the background is sort of-- excuse me-- are these huge trees and forests and Mt. Hood kind of looming in the distance. And sort of this gentle or not so gentle reminder that this is a gorgeous place filled with incredible natural resources. And because of that, people in Oregon have cared about the environment for a really long time.
So going back to the '60s and '70s, there have been a lot of statewide laws and local plans and policies to protect the environment. So back in the mid-'70s, a law was passed that required statewide land use planning, and it required each community-- even communities with 1,000 people-- to do sort of a comprehensive plan that met 19 different statewide goals related to housing and agriculture and forestry and economic development. And you went through all of those and because it was the '70s-- and Jimmy Carter, who had us all putting on sweaters and such-- energy was one of those goals.
So at that time, back in 1979, Portland actually adopted its first local energy policy, which no one really understood what it was or why they were doing it. But there was this idea that cities actually have a huge impact on energy use, and that there's the federal government that's going to set big CAFE standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and such. The states are going to do some things. But that cities-- they're the ones that do building codes and streets and transportation and land use and housing.
And they own a lot of buildings, and that actually, cities have a huge impact on the way energy is used in our communities. And that urban areas have a huge impact basically on the energy use of the whole country. So we thought it was really important-- not we, not me, but way back then in the '70s-- to begin to get this idea that energy and housing and land use and transportation and economic development are really interconnected.
At the same time, as part of that land use planning, each community had to set up an urban growth boundary. And so the urban growth boundary is more or less just a ring around the city. And in Portland, instead of it just being Portland, it's Portland plus the 23 other cities that are in the metropolitan area and the three counties.
And so the ring basically defines where development can and cannot occur, and it was done way back in the '70s, not thinking at all about energy use in general or any of these other issues of transportation. It was to protect forests and farmlands. So these incredible, incredible natural resources that were there, and that were basically the basis of our economy also in the Northwest.
What we didn't know who knew that that urban growth boundary would actually be our greatest energy conservation measure that we had ever could have taken because what it did was it caused growth to be contained, which made it more dense, which made it so that you could actually live in a place where you can walk to the bus easily. And it basically built from there a lot of that. Along with that, in the '80s, what everybody calls "smart growth planning." Literally, back in the '80s and early '90s, a lot of the planning started to happen that was what we all called "transit-oriented development." And so there were rules that said if you do development along any transit corridors, bus lines, major light rail, or anything else. And now it seems like it's even along bikeways.
You basically have to do multifamily or mixed-use development along those corridors. And what that does is it makes it so you don't waste the land near the transit with single-family homes. You actually do it in a place so that people, who are along the corridors are able then to use the transit. So there's lots of other things we had way back then. A bottle bill to recycle.
We cleaned up the beaches and the rivers. And we started actually doing recycling way back in-- I think it became curbside recycling was like 1982 or something and started doing it a long time ago. So we were talking, just a few minutes ago, about how some differences between Portland and Phoenix.
And one of the things is that one of the reasons we are where we are today is because we started a really long time ago. We kind of cheated. And so when I go out and do this talk with a lot of places, it's like, well, we started so long ago. That's kind of why we've gotten a lot done in the interim.
To tell this story, let me go back in time to 1993, when I was just out of graduate school. And with my floppy disk here, I went to city council and convinced one of the council members that global warming was indeed real. And shouldn't we do a plan as a local government to show what cities can do to reduce carbon dioxide? So we joined with 12 other cities with some grant funding.
And the cities were primarily in Europe and then a couple of other North American cities. Dade County-- believe it or not, which is Miami, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Portland, and Toronto were the North American cities, and then the rest were in Europe. If you look at our plans, they're almost all identical. We didn't really know what we were doing, so we all stole from each other and made up the plans.
So what we did was figure out a methodology for how to count up the carbon emissions way back then in the early '90s. And so since then, we've been tracking emissions for a really, really long time. So we did the plan back in '93 because when we looked around, we didn't see anything happening at the federal government level. And we saw these operatives. And exactly 14 years later or whatever it is, we still don't see a lot happening at the federal level, but we do see a lot happening in cities.
So since we adopted this plan in '93, there's been about 100 other cities in the US who are either in the midst of doing it, or they have already adopted their own local plans. And there's really about 400 cities worldwide who have done similar things. And we've all kind of borrowed from each other lots of great ideas because a lot of this stuff isn't technical.
It's not figuring out which kind of solar equipment to use. It's figuring out how do you market this kind of stuff? How do you do behavior change without being command and control? How do you basically change the way what people buy and the way that they work in their business or at home? So we identified a series of objectives in energy efficiency-- renewable energy, transportation, waste reduction and recycling, and then trees and sequestration in terms of looking at carbon dioxide emissions. Eight years later, we got a better cover, and we also updated the plan.
And in this plan, it's the same categories basically, with also a big emphasis on public education and community and outreach. The goal was set at a 10% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010-- somewhat similar to the whole Kyoto thing. And we said, if that's not going to happen in the US, at least perhaps Portland can adopt a similar plan. So what's happened?
Well, since 1990, carbon dioxide emissions in Portland have actually decreased by 14% per person. And at the same time, our population has increased by about 14% or 15%. So we're back to 1990 levels. The rest of the US is up about 16% on average. And actually, the rest of most of Oregon is up almost that much.
So what's happened is something's happening different in Portland than really most of the rest of the country. And a couple of things, I think, that are interesting about that is that this was happening at a time-- you'll hear a lot of people say, oh, you can't work on the issue of global warming because it will ruin the economy. This was absolutely during the time when Oregon's had its strongest economy ever.
And it was a time where growth was happening, and jobs were being created. And more and more people wanted to move to Portland. I'm going to go through some of the different kinds of things that are going on in the city.
The main two messages I'd say that there are out of this is that first of all, none of this happened because of global warming. None of these improvements, the reductions in CO2 emissions didn't happen because anyone cared about the issue of global warming. It happened because people wanted a more livable, walkable place to live in. They wanted to cut their costs for business. They wanted to reduce energy use in their home because they wanted to cut their bills, or they wanted it to be more light-filled or more comfortable.
They cared about affordable housing for renters. They wanted to reduce traffic congestion. So there are a hundred other reasons to take the exact same action you would take to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or methane emissions, but you would do it for some other reason.
So that's the important part of that is you can have a conversation about this with business, with residents, with your grandmother, with your kids, with whoever, and you don't have to talk about global climate change. They don't have to believe. And that was really important up until about 18 months ago. I'd say where now things have changed where I think public opinion kind of is like, oh, actually, maybe this is real, has really shifted. But until recently, you would do these exact same things for a whole lot of other different reasons.
And then the second point, really, is because we added up the numbers, and we can really show where the emissions have changed, what we realize is that all of this happened because literally millions and millions of decisions were made every day by thousands and thousands of people that reduced energy use. And it did it because people made specific decisions to buy something different or basically, to do something different-- so every decision you make every day. When I think about sustainability, this is how I try to explain to people. It's like everything we do today affects the future, and the world that our kids are going to inherit. And so how you got here today, what the lights are like in the room, what foods you ate today, how far it came from, whether there were pesticides on it-- all the different kinds of things that you do every single day you think don't have much of an impact because you're just one person.
But when you add up the numbers, you find out that actually millions of little decisions really do add up. So I just think that's really important. So what has been happening? To start out with, transportation.
So from 1990 to 2006, gasoline use fell by 13% per capita. Vehicle miles traveled fell by 7%. We've had an 85% increase in transit ridership. And this is while our population increased by about 15% during that time.
As most of you know who been there, you can get off the plane, get on the light rail, go downtown, and all the transit is free downtown. So those are some of the things that make it so that it's actually really easy not to have a car. We also have about 40 miles of light rail and street trolley.
One of the other things that's really changed on the transportation front is bicycle riding. So bicycling-- this is a graph that shows both the bicycle traffic and the number of miles of bicycle network in terms of the actual-- in either separated bikeways or in street bikeways. So we've increased the amount of bicycle miles by about 240%.
And at the same time, bicycle ridership has gone up about 410%. This is the whole idea that you need to make it safe for people. You need to have a place for people to ride. And if you do build the infrastructure, build it, and they will ride. They will come, and people will want to use the infrastructure.
So we started doing bicycle accounts. The way Portland is is there's-- this is Portland, and there's a river in the middle. And one side is sort of-- let me flip this over.
One side is a big park, basically. The whole west side is hills, and it's streets, and it's very beautiful. And then the other side is very much flat and grid-like. And it looks like a real city with little small blocks that are very walkable and all. And so we started doing measurements. Downtown is actually on the west side just before all those hills. So we started doing bicycle counts of people going over the river to work. And a few years ago, the number was around 5,000 people a day, which we thought was pretty amazing.
Well, last summer, we did counts over and over every day, and the average was 14,000 people a day riding their bikes to work downtown. And yet, the infrastructure didn't change that much in the past couple of years. So that doesn't happen just because you build stuff. It happens because-- at least, I believe-- it's sort of a social norm. It's become cool to ride your bike.
And so you can be a high-paid planner like these guys here or a high-paid lawyer or something else. And it's cool to walk into a meeting with helmet head and your helmet in your hand, and it's again sort of like you get to work, and people say, did you ride? And you're like, ehh. And so you want to tell people it's just become a part of the social fabric. There is contest between companies every September. We have a huge contest between companies all over town. About 800 companies compete basically to see how many people will ride to work and how many miles and all of this. And the numbers keep going up and up.
So it's kind of silly, but it's also-- once you do it once, you go, oh, I didn't have to go work out today. And it'll actually save time. You think it's going to take you longer, but it kind of in the whole package of things. It becomes something that a lot of people are doing, even if they just do it like once a week or so.
So besides transportation, energy efficiency is a huge part of sustainability and of reducing carbon emissions. We have pretty strong energy codes in Portland.
My understanding is that in Arizona, you don't actually have energy codes at the state level, and it's up to cities whether or not they want to adopt those. We actually have kind of a reverse, which the state has an energy code. It's a pretty good and thorough one. It's about as strong as California, which is at the top of the nation. But if we want to go beyond it, if we wanted to have a building code sort of like the LEED green building standards-- how many of you know what LEED green building is? So some of you.
So it's sort of a point-based system that basically looks at energy efficiency and water and wastewater and materials. And you get a certain amount of points, pretty much beyond where anyone naturally or builds to regular code. And you can be a part of this LEED-based system if we wanted to adopt that as code, we can't. So we're looking for ways to get around that because the state basically sets the limits. And I'll talk about that in a minute.
So for city facilities, one of the things we know is that even the council members who don't really care much about environmental issues, They all care about saving money. So starting when I first got this job, we started running as fast as we could on looking at our own facilities. So we're now saving about 22% on our energy bills from where we were. And it's about $2 and 1/2 million a year, so that's very real. They don't have to care about the environment at all to care about saving money, and it's a really good example for business because we can't be out working with businesses and then having not done stuff to our own facilities and to our own system.
So since 1990, it's also really taken off in the residential sector. We're now at about 5% less energy use per household. That's not a huge amount, but it is in the right direction. And these houses are actually bigger than they used to be in 1990 because all these homes-- they'll get bigger and bigger, although somebody was telling me this morning that the homes being built-- and I don't know which neighborhood or which city-- that like 5,000 square feet is not unusual. And so she keeps saying Scottsdale over there.
So that's another social norm. Even if you're a multimillionaire in Portland, you would not build that home because you would be embarrassed to do that. And it's this weird sort of thing.
And so that wasn't true again eight years ago. Out in the suburbs, there were homes being built like that. But I think it's just this sort of social norm of if you have a lot of money, you actually want the coolest house downtown or within three miles of right downtown. So I don't know how all of this happens, and how it gets there but that's sort of where we are.
Can you comment on how real estate developers would view that issue because here, one of the main motivations for big houses is that they charge by the square foot, and there's more profit on the larger houses? I don't think there's demand for it. We have in the city of Portland, we actually only have about maybe 1,500 homes built new a year. And that number keeps going down because there's no single family home lots left.
We have a whole lot of multifamily and a lot of very expensive condos that I could not move into right downtown and within a mile of downtown. So most of those are filled with either people who have retired and had the bigger houses in the suburb, and they want to live in a place where they can walk out the door and go to dinner and do everything they need without a car. Or it's filled with people who are 26 years old and just came from San Francisco, and it's cheaper than a regular house there. And so that's sort of a mix of very sort of retirement and 25 to 35-year-old, no kids folks that have just come from the Bay Area predominantly. So a big shift.
I think one of the things that you're kind of getting at is that we kind of thought as planners 10 or 15 years ago, when we're drawing out the light rail lines, just like you guys are now, and saying you got to do increase density along it-- that somehow this was all going to work. And the amazing thing is actually when you go to buy a house, you will pay a lot more for a house that's within a quarter mile of the light rail or a really good bus line than you will anywhere else. And so that's now been proven, and it's something people ask for when they're buying homes and stuff. And so and the same thing for work.
There's now pressure to have your business downtown because your employees don't want to drive. They want to be able to just get on light rail, just get to work, and get back home, and not have this thing out in the suburbs somewhere. So all that's kind of just changing and part of that change is you build a livable community, and then people who are 20 to 35, who are really well educated-- and the same thing is sort of true here too.
People who are really well educated want to come to a good environment, and they want to live in a cool place. And they're picking Portland on purpose. And so it's just kind of self-reinforcing.
Audience member: What's the traffic like on the 5 or 405? Has any of this had a noticeable impact with commuters who are driving?
Absolutely, I mean, 'cause ridership is something like eight times what they ever thought it was going to be in terms of the light rail definitely. And obviously, transit ridership has gone up 85%. Is it still awful to be on what's called the Sunset Highway that heads west out towards Nike and Intel? Where probably 60-70,000 people work. Yeah, it's awful, but the thing that's changed is people use to live out there and work out there and then go into town every once in a while, which is sort of the norm.
Now the people who are moving to Portland, who are primarily young engineers from all over the world, because that's how Intel works-- they don't want to live downtown so the reverse commute is happening, and they're all leaving. But they can take light rail right to the thing. So yeah, traffic is still bad, and that's actually partly by design.
So it's a really bad, awful two-lane freeway and on purpose. All the transportation planners and legislators are like, yeah, let's keep it that way because then everybody will have to ride light rail. And if it was really quick and easy then it would--
Audience member: How are the schools?
The schools are good. And that's actually that's our biggest economic development approach is you've got to keep the schools good. Is every school is great? Elementary schools are incredibly good, and it kind of goes from there until you get to--
Audience member: Are they better than a private school in Oregon?
Yeah, I think they're the same pretty much. It's something like 93% of people send their kids to public school. So in an urban area, that's pretty unusual, I think, in that kind of an urban area.
So on the LEED green building standards, back in 2000, when we started the office, the first thing we did was say that we went to counsel, and they passed an ordinance that said any new city facility needs to be LEED. Of course, it was really easy because we were like building a fire station here, and that was it. And so we weren't like in this big row thing. And so I'm like OK, go now because we're just doing a fire station this year. That's moved up over the years, and it's now LEED gold. And we are building occasionally but not a lot.
The second part of it that really makes a huge difference is we said that any new commercial building or apartment building, multifamily affordable housing that gets any kind of an incentive from the city. So that could be what's called tax-increment financing or having your property tax put off for several years because you're building in a certain area. There's a lot of incentives for affordable housing, and those happen, to one extent or another, in every metropolitan area. And so we said if you get that any kind of city money, you also have to meet LEED.
And that's now a LEED silver, and that changed everything because all the developers and architects and such that wanted to get that project, whatever it was, whether it was an 80-unit apartment building or build a new development that was a private development, but that got some kind of funding. They learned how to do it quick. And what they really did was create an entire industry. That wasn't what we were trying to do. We thought what we were doing was some kind of environmental thing.
But what ended up happening is that there's now hundreds and hundreds of architects and engineers and designers and developers that know how to build to LEED and beyond and know how to do it cost-effectively because they've done several buildings. So they're working in LA and San Francisco, and they're probably working here, and they're working in China a lot too-- in terms of exporting basically this knowledge and development.
So we all know LEED's not perfect. There's a lot of problems with it, but it's kind of the best thing that we have right now. So we've been using it.
We also had a discussion earlier. So any of you who care about LEED-- about whether you should really just let businesses have to do it all but not get certified because the certification costs money, and you have to jump through these hoops. But we really, really felt that the process wouldn't be genuine unless you actually have them go through the hoops and actually prove that they've commissioned the buildings, that they've gone through all the things that you need to do, basically to meet LEED. And so we've pretty much stuck with it.
That picture there in the corner with the tall red tower used to be the Henry Weinhard Breweries. And so that's now about two million or 2 and 1/2 million square feet of office space and housing, and so and it's a LEED gold building. So there's 150 LEED certified buildings in the metro area, either completed or that are underway. And it's a pretty big number-- I think we're the most in the US right now, but all the big cities will go zooming by us.
Yeah, I think we all do. That's what we do. They're probably right.
Audience member: For that red building down there, that's now office-- do they use LEED for existing buildings or did you use LEED for--
It was before ED was around. So that was 2002, I think or right around there that they completed it. So it was one of the first buildings, but it has an eco-roof. It has like you name it. It has all the bells and whistles.
And the interesting thing is the guy who is the developer of that-- so it's a company called Gerding Edlen. They're probably the largest-- they are the largest developer in Portland. They've sort of become zealots, and so they are my strongest ally because I can get all sorts of environmentalists to come with me and say all these things. And I can get him or one of the leads of that company to come with me.
I can usually get their time very scheduled for 10 minutes, but I can get them to come with me and say, we're making money hand over fist doing this. And that's a really different story than we should do this to clean up the environment. And so that's, I think, really important.
So besides energy efficiency and transportation, there's renewable energy. And so in Portland, it's a little less focused on solar or maybe than here because our weather is slightly different, but we do have a lot of solar going on too. The focus is primarily on wind power.
There's about 500 megawatts of wind farms built up in the Columbia Gorge. So that first picture I showed you of the river up between-- the river basically divides Oregon and Washington most of the way. And up near the gorge, the wind is great, and it's mostly farmland that otherwise is just grazing land or wheat. And so farmers are very, very excited about this new opportunity to make money there.
There's about 2,000 megawatts of potential there, with good transmission right nearby, and it can be developed as cheap as any natural gas plant. And so that's an amazing resource in that I predict it will all be built out in the next 10 years. So for people who aren't energy geeks like me, 50 megawatts is about the amount of power-- in Oregon anyways-- maybe 12,000 homes use. So it's a lot of power. It's a lot.
So we have a renewable portfolio standard. I understand Arizona's is I think 15%, by 2025 that means that the energy that is generated electricity between now and 2025, 15% of it needs to be from new renewable resources. And in Oregon, it's 25%, but it's the same idea, and it's really pushing the marketplace. What's more interesting for me is in that 2001 action plan on global warming-- so how many of you have ever helped develop any kind of a plan-- transportation, energy, land use? So a few of you.
So when you do those plans, the funny thing is you just start making up stuff. You start going, well, I think in the next 10 years, or whatever the thing is, we could do this. And you basically have some basis in reality, but it's also kind of a wish list.
Well, one of the things I put in there was oh by 2010-- because it was nine years away-- we're going to be 100% renewable power for city government. And it's about $17 million of power a year, and that's Oregon electricity prices. So it's probably $25 million worth of power here a year, and somehow that's just going to happen. You suddenly wake up a few years later and like, oh, I want to keep my job so I better figure out how to do this. And it's sort of been put to me that way in the past year.
And so two years ago, we went to our electric utilities and sort of got a price for what it would cost for them to go get us this much wind power. And if any of you know much about the utility industry, you're basically stuck with them because that's your electricity provider. One of the things in Oregon is if you're a large customer, you can actually buy your power from someone else-- the power component-- and the electric local utility has to take that power and bring it to your door. It doesn't actually work that way at all-- just goes into the system. But on paper, it has to all happen like that.
So we said, OK, well, we're just going to see who would do it for us. So we put out a request for proposals, and we got four really good proposals. And then the fun kind of began of no one had ever done this before. And how do you have a legal contract between a city that's not a utility and a private company is going to build you a wind farm? And how does the power actually get there?
And so we've actually spent two years of lawyering back and forth and disagreeing and then as soon as a deal would be right ready to go, someone would outbid us and just come in with a really easy contract because they're a utility. And they've done this 500 times. And so we finally, finally have a project all lined up. And hopefully, in the next couple of months, we'll be able to send you a letter an email and say, yay, we finally did it.
And the project is going to be in central Oregon, and it's more directly related to small projects 5-10 megawatt-- it's going to be 50 megawatts total of power. And the advantage, again, is sort of this connection between the city and a rural area, which is really important to the city when we get down to the state legislature. Anything we can do to build a connection between Portland, which is very liberal and very everything that the rest of Oregon is not, we want to do those things to build that relationship.
So these wind farms will be on farmer's properties and in counties where those counties now will get a whole big increase in their property tax base because these wind farms will be on their way on county land or just on private land but within the county. So they're very excited about it. The farmers are excited about it.
And it's like a direct relationship between we're going to be basically taking money that used to go to our electric utility, which went to basically their board of directors and all the other people who own shares in the company. And now this money is going to come right between two parts of Oregon. So we're pretty excited about it.
And hopefully, it'll be done in the next-- actually, the project is going to be done either way in the next probably 18 months, but whether we are going to end up the owner or not is still the paperwork we're trying to finish. The sun does shine occasionally in Oregon. If you come downtown, and you don't take transit. And you didn't ride your bike, and you didn't walk. And you park your car, and you're really tall, you can look on the top of the parking meters, and they're all solar.
And there's solar on various city buildings and pools and fire stations and on maintenance vans. Some of the maintenance vans downtown they're doing work on sewer, different kinds of things, they have solar, so they don't have to run their stinky diesel engine in the streets. And so that's another thing that's going on.
We have a solar campaign going on right now trying to get several hundred new source systems on businesses and residents. And I was just doing this earlier this morning for a group of architects, and they pointed out that this guy his a bike helmet on up there, and I haven't really figured that one out yet. But for some reason, maybe it's just attached to his head or something.
It's OSHA required.
I think yeah. Yeah, it's just kind of cool. He doesn't even want to take it off.
So anyway, it's a being run as a campaign, and the campaign idea is-- I was just explaining this a few minutes ago-- is we went and found you know who. Actually, the person I hired to run it is a campaign manager of a whole bunch of city council races and state legislative races. And she got these people elected, so she knows how to go find people with money, and have them give them money to get something done.
So she went to her list of somewhat wealthy people list who are also environmentalists. And we invited them all to a party. And at the party, we basically said, you all have told us for years. You're environmentalists. Well, now show us and make a commitment to solar, and they did.
And we had 50 of them sign up, either for their businesses and different buildings throughout town or for their own personal residence. And part of the deal was if you do it, then we will tell everyone your story. And so we're helping to get their story in the paper, in the business journal, and the different places. And we also are having them sort of-- anybody who's been involved in campaigns know it's all about the house parties. So we actually are then having them tell their friends basically and get their friends to do the same thing.
So it's weird when you think about why renewables don't happen in a community. And people say it's because it costs too much, and that's not really why. I mean, it's a little bit why.
But it's also because it's messy, and it's hard to do. They don't know who the contractors are, and they don't know how to get the tax credits. And it's a big pain. And so what we've done mostly is set up sort of-- I call it a concierge service, where we just help them handhold them through the process. And we're doing the same thing with just regular people.
And so we now have had 10 workshops and 150 people have shown up at each of the workshops who are ready to go, but they don't know what to do. And so we're basically kind of hand-holding them through and hope to get several hundred done in the next year or two.
Other electricity projects-- so this is out at our wastewater treatment plant. So every city has a wastewater treatment plant, and all of them have sewage gas. It's lovely. And most of them flare it just right there because you can't just let it go off into the atmosphere. That's a set of micro-turbines.
We also have sort of like a jet engine, basically. And it will generate about $600,000 worth of power a year. It generates out there. And all that can be used right on site.
So any city should be doing this. We should all be doing this. It's just something that's been a waste resource for years.
So renewables isn't just about electricity. It's also about other fuels. And this summer, Portland became the first city in the country to have a biofuel standard for all transportation fuels.
So if you come to Portland, and you drive your car. And you go to fill up, and you have a diesel vehicle, you get 5% bio-diesel. You don't know you're getting it, but you are getting it. And you get 10% ethanol.
And there's all sorts of discussion about the value of biodiesel and ethanol made from corn and all of these sorts of things. And we know that that's all true-- that whether or not it really is a greenhouse gas savings.
But what we do know is in the long run, that biodiesel from canola, or wood waste or agricultural waste in Oregon or switchgrass, and other things for ethanol, that that is both cost-effective and from a greenhouse gas perspective, a huge savings. So we're trying to build demand and infrastructure right now. And Oregon State University has several huge research grants where they're working with farmers basically to grow the crops that are the right crops in terms of that.
So we're building demand for our own city vehicles. We use pretty much 50% biodiesel in all the vehicles, except for the water bureau, who wants to outdo everybody. And so there, we have 99%.
Biodiesel-- I oversee garbage, so I made all the garbage trucks go to 20% biodiesel, and it's just kind of moved on from there. I can't remember if I was saying this a minute ago or not because I've got a couple of presentations today. But just like the wind thing on biodiesel, we're actually buying it from a particular farmer for the city vehicles, where we help them pay for a crusher for the canola.
Canola is like a mustard plant. And so we're helping them pay for that crusher. He's creating the biodiesel. He has somebody else mixing it, bringing it to us. And so again, it's this really nice direct connection with particular people and farmers in central Oregon with the city.
So this is one family's recycling for a year. I think including that really ugly couch that they're sitting on, which I think they reused. They gave it to Goodwill, and somebody else took it away. So another way to impact greenhouse gases is by buying less stuff in the first place, by reusing it and then also by recycling.
When you add up all the carbon dioxide emissions and methane, basically, emissions is what that really means. It's the equivalent of taking up 100,000 cars a year off the road in Portland. So we have a 63% recycling rate for commercial and residential all added up together.
Our plan is to go to 75% by 2015. And if you all are interested in recycling or waste reduction, I can talk about that more in questions and answers. The main areas where we need to grow are actually in almost every city-- 3/4 of the garbage is commercial-- it's business. And so you can do all this great curbside recycling, and you can recycle everything. And if you don't do anything about business recycling, you're missing the whole picture.
And so that's something that's really important. And that probably a quarter of the garbage is food waste-- food waste and soil, food, soil, paper, and pizza boxes, and stuff like that. So that's something we're going after. We're basically going to ban-- we've all been voluntary for all these years, and this is another political thing, where I have a council right now until November, when some of them will be off, that I know will work with this. And I don't know what happens come November-- or actually, sooner than that when they're elected.
So I'm trying to move some of this fast, and it's food waste and construction and demolition debris. So that's another quarter-- really of what's in the garbage. And most of that is wood and glass and metal that can all be recycled. So we're working on those two areas. Let's see what else.
Financing-- so the reason all this kind of works in Portland is because we've had really great financial incentives, especially on the energy and renewable side for a really long time. Going back to the mid '80s, we had a business energy tax credit of 35% for projects. So 35% of the cost of the project can be taken off of their income tax-- their business income tax. And if it's a solar project, as of this year, it's 50%.
So if you have a solar project, and you're a business, you can get 50% from the state, and another about 20% from the federal government, and another 10% from the utility energy efficiency program. So there's almost no reason not to do it at this point.
Residents have a 25% energy tax credit for energy efficiency or renewables. We have state tax credits for LEED. So if you build to LEED, there's also a certain dollar per square foot reduction.
And then we have something called the Energy Trust of Oregon where 3% of all of electricity bills in the state goes into a fund. I'm not sure if this works the same in Arizona. But in California, all the money gets added up, and it goes back to the utilities who run energy conservation programs. They did their first, and we thought that didn't sound very good because it's like you're giving money back to the utilities who want to sell power and telling them to tell their customers not to buy more power.
And so this is not a good idea for electric utilities, from my perspective, to run energy efficiency programs because their heart can never really be in it because it's always they're selling less of their product. That's not to say that some people in those companies are doing a really great job. It's just in general, there's no real huge incentive to do it. So we have a nonprofit, and it's about $70 million year that goes into that for renewable resource and energy efficiency projects.
We also have something called the Climate Trust in Oregon. In general, in the US, there's not really a carbon market yet, like there is beginning to be in Europe. It's definitely not mature, but there is some informal markets dealing with carbon. And I won't go into this a lot. But if you all have questions, I could talk individually after.
So starting in 2002, we were looking for funding for how to get weatherization projects done in apartment buildings because there were all these incentives out there, but the property owners weren't taking advantage of them because they don't pay the utility bills. So if you think of any rental situation, basically the renter pays the bills, but the property owner has the ability to fix up the property and do weatherization and such. So there was a real disconnect.
So we for a while had some grant money from the US Department of Energy to do some of this work. And we found all we had to do was market, and market less rental turnover and increased comfort of the building. We didn't talk about energy savings because the owner didn't care. We showed that if you just marketed to these people, they would actually do it.
So we went to the climate trust and said if you give us just the marketing money, for every dollar, we'll raise hundreds of dollars-- basically, more than that. We ended up raising $20 million in private investment for about a million dollars of their investment for weatherizing apartment buildings, which means adding insulation and doing lighting retrofits and those kinds of things in the apartments. So the projects wouldn't have happened without the money. So these are truly additional projects. They wouldn't have happened otherwise.
And also, the savings were just-- they're currently not really owned by anyone because there's not a real market. And so the property owners of all these buildings didn't care that they were signing over their carbon to the city to go do this. Where my guess is 5, 10, 15 years from now that's not going to be the case.
We're all going to have some kind of value, especially companies who have large industrial companies, who aren't going to do those projects otherwise. They will have something to sell basically in terms of carbon credits. And that's a whole ‘nother story.
So what's coming up next? We had a group of citizens who cared a lot about the issue of peak oil and the issue more or less of volatile oil prices and volatile supplies. And what does that actually do to a community? What happens?
And so they ran a bunch of scenarios, and a lot of things happened in the city. If they go to city council, and it's something anything vaguely related to sustainability or environment or energy, they just hand it to me and say, go do this without any money. So we brought all these citizens together, and then we brought a bunch of experts together from the US Department of Energy, from our Department of Energy, and others.
And we basically looked at so what happens if suddenly the price of oil goes-- the price of gasoline goes to $8? Or what happens to heating oil for lower-income families? What happens to all these things? And we found pretty quickly that the issues that are important are the social issues that are hard to deal with now in terms of homelessness, in terms of food for lower-income families, in terms of them getting around, transportation, all just become worse.
So for most of us, yeah, we'll have to pay more, and it's not really going to affect us. But for people on the margin, those people are going to be affected dramatically. And so that made it a social issue.
And it's beginning to translate over to people who care about homelessness and low-income housing and affordability and minority issues, about having that all be like, oh, we should actually care about what are we going to do to reduce and have Portland be ready so that when this happens, it doesn't really affect those people as much? So a lot of those things are having transit available. All the same things we were doing anyways-- it just gives more reasons for why you wanted to do it. So they set a goal-- as Portland would do of cutting fossil fuel use in half within 25 years.
And again, to do this for economic development reasons, to do these for environmental reasons, but also for social. And then a couple of weeks ago, they decided they want to update that plan. And they want to change the global warming goal from 10% reduction to what scientists say is really needed, which is an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
And then they asked me to have the plan done by summer. So if you have any good ideas, send them to me. So we're really excited about that.
One component again of that plan that's going to be that we just announced but have not gotten adopted yet through counsel, but I'm pretty sure it's going to happen is something we're calling a rebate and fee-bate. So are there any economists in this room? Oh good, I can make all of this up then.
So I mean, the basic idea is you want to pay people to do stuff that you want them to do, and you want to have fees and disincentives and taxes on things you don't want them to do. And that's sort of a basic economic theory of how you get people to change behavior. That's not how our economy works. We tax things like income, and people working, which is actually something we want to do, which is really crazy. And we really should be taxing things like air pollution or water pollution or something like that.
So we took this idea, and we did it towards building construction. So what I was saying, in the beginning, is we can't just go adopt a new building code. We had to get around that somehow. So what we're going to do is basically if you just make code, the energy code in Oregon, you're going to have to pay a fee, a carbon fee, equal to the amount of carbon released over the next 50 or 60 years of life for that building or some amount like that. If you go beyond the code, if it's 30% more efficient, you don't have to pay the fee.
And we chose that number because there are a lot of builders already both in homes and in the construction that are getting there. And they're getting there without any kind of market incentive, and you can do it for just about the same cost as doing the other things if you're a smart builder. And then if you go 45% more efficient-- so that's about like a LEED platinum building on the commercial side and a really super-efficient home on the residential side, you actually will get a check from the city that comes from all of the fees being paid by all the other people who haven't figured it out yet. And so we're going to do this as a way to basically change all new construction in the city over time.
And a lot of those fees in the early couple of years will also be used for extensive training. So we currently have two people full time that do nothing but work with architects, engineers, developers, homeowners working on promoting green building and basically giving them good technical ideas on how to move forward. Five years ago, that was really unusual. Now we have hundreds of architects who know as much as those two people do. And so it's really shifted the marketplace.
The other idea that will be in the plan for sure is-- that was for new construction. This is for existing construction. And so when we have a home being sold, you will need to do a green building rating at that time. So if I sell my house to you, you'll basically know that my house is an 84 on 100 scale, and this other house over here you were going to buy is a 40.
And so without having anything else but that information, it then becomes a negotiating tool. So when you buy my house you may say, fine, but I want a new roof, and I want it to be a higher score on that, so you need to go do this insulation. And it becomes something that, at this point, nobody has that information.
What Oakland and San Francisco and Berkeley are working on together, and then we're just waiting till they got it all done. And then we're going to hopefully take all that information-- we already worked it out with them. And we said you have so much more money than we do, especially San Francisco.
So they're taking the next step and saying after you do that, you actually have to meet some higher standard, and at time of sale, we'll have to make some improvements to the building. And so I don't think I have the residential real estate community behind me to be able to do that. I could probably do it on commercial side because nobody owns commercial buildings-- only a few people and you just have to get past them.
But from a political point of view, the residential will be really, really hard to do. So those are some of the things that are going on. A couple of other projects, real quick.
We have a new one-stop kind of information center. How many of you work in businesses? A count? You're all students-- OK. Well, a few of you-- you must work somewhere.
So you get out of school, and you go get a job, and it has 2,000 employees. And they want you to be the person that greens up the company. And that happens all the time now in the city, where people are like, well, want to green up, but we don't know where to start. And somebody, as 10% of their job, suddenly has this thrown on them.
And they go figure out where to get bus passes for their employees, and how to do water conservation, and how to get the electric utility audits, and the list goes on and on. And they have to call 17 different places. And so we're making it all. We've worked with all the groups finally. This took like five years.
And said, we're just going to have one number, and one huge website that all this stuff is connected to so that you can just call one number and get help on all of these things and get referrals. So it's one of those things that's, again, really simple, but something that will really, really build demand and implementation.
We have a new green building hotline similar kind of thing where it's one stop. You can call and get answers on green building. It's for the whole metro area. And then I talked a little bit about the improvements in curbside-- or I did on the commercial side.
On curbside recycling, the thing that we're changing is sometime during the next year, it'll be implemented slowly is you'll have one big roll cart that all your recycling goes in, except for glass, which will be on the side. And that will get picked up every week. You'll have another big roll can where all your yard debris goes in and all your food waste and meat and pizza boxes and any paper soiled stuff will all go in. And then hopefully, you'll just have this little teeny garbage can, and we're only going to pick it up every other week.
And if you want to have it every week, you get charged more. And this is, again, another thing sort of the plan idea, where you go, let's just try it. And you threw it out to council, and they went for it in a rare moment. And so that's what we're proposing to do, and you can get it picked up every week. You'll just have to pay $2 or something, and it'll be in the realm of not really expensive to have it picked up more.
But it's just one of those things we think kind of makes a statement too that oh, look-- when you recycle all this stuff, and you put all this stuff in the compost, there's nothing left. Unfortunately, the things that will be left will be diapers, we figured-- the disposable diapers. So those will be a little messy.
But so sum up is we have done a lot. We started early. We're headed in the right direction.
A friend of mine said this to me the other day. They said, well, yeah amongst all these cities, you're getting an A-plus, but compared to where we need to go, you're getting an F. All you've done is gone back to 1990 levels. We need to get an 80% reduction, and I think that that's the truth.
That's the scary thing that we have to wake up to is that it's really going to be hard to do that. And to do that, we need to make some really big investments in renewables and energy efficiency and green building. And I think the good news is I think it can actually happen. I think it can happen cost-effectively. And I think there's a lot of actually money to be made in doing that.
And I think, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, we have literally hundreds of architects, engineers, developers green building, various materials being made in Oregon because of sort of this environmental thing. And here's a list of some of the companies that are doing this work, and they've shown that you can make a profit at this.
[INAUDIBLE] question anybody wants to ask [INAUDIBLE]?
We're all good. Yeah?
Audience member: Question about the recycling-- San Francisco has this critical mass ride every year. And so besides this [INAUDIBLE] recycling reaching a point where enough people on the road that they'll recognize as an alternative form of transportation, not something that you push to the side with your automobile, but it's now a typical means of getting around.
Right, we're up to like 5% of all trips being made are made by bicycle with [INAUDIBLE] times the average. So yes, they're out there. And yes, the main point is drivers are aware now.
Unfortunately, there's been a couple of fatalities this year where people were in big trucks and little bike right next to them, and they turned right. So we're talking about changing it so that the bikes get to go up front at every stop light. Basically, the bikes go to the front, like they do in Europe. You wait till the light turns green, and then they go back into the bike lane.
Yeah, we have we have the same ride. Our mayor went on it the first year in his recumbent-- he's pretty big guy-- in the recumbent bicycle. He went and led the thing. We have a nude bicycle ride also, in case anyone wants the date. We do that too.
Audience member: Do employers provide storage and other means for items not to get stolen?
Showers are pretty important.
Yep, so no, bikes get stolen. It happens everywhere. That's sort of the way it is, but we're looking at-- there's the system in Leone and in some other European cities. And it's like car share.
We have a car sharing like Flexcar. But it's the same idea. And you basically come up you and swipe your card in there. And the first 25 or 30 minutes are free. And you just ride your bike where you want to go, and then you put it back in, and you lock it up. And so we're looking at how to do that in Portland too.
Audience member: I'm actually familiar with the Portland area, but [INAUDIBLE]
We have this boundary. So in some ways, no. The boundary's out there a bit, and we're just really hitting up against it now. So the metro area itself has kind of reached the capacity, and it definitely looks different. The footprint looks different.
If you were to look at the heights of buildings and all those things in Portland than it does here. You just don't have sprawling-- most of downtown Portland and within seven miles of downtown are lots that are 50 by 100, 65 by 100. So they're relatively small urban lots.
If you get out in the suburbs, parts of it look just like anywhere else in the US. And so it's easy to bike ride, especially on the east side, except we do have a little bit of rain. And so there is a big hurdle to get over in terms of wanting to bike in the rain. Yeah?
What type of initiatives do you see going on in Hillsboro Beaverton and the more suburban areas that are maybe more analogous to just the development in the Phoenix area that could maybe more easily get carried over or applicable.
The big thing there, I think, is that they're understanding that one of the things that they need to do is be a little Portland-like so that there are places where people can live and walk and get to the store and not have to drive just to get a gallon of milk. And so they're building town centers, which are right near the light rail, which might have literally 2,000 housing units within a quarter mile or half mile of the station. So that's a big change.
And they're just like every other city in the US of any size. They have their one or two token LEED buildings, and they're very proud of them. So I think that's part of it.
The other thing that's happened though is that unfortunately, from my perspective, is the lower-income and minority communities in Portland are getting pushed out because you have people who want to live really close in. And these are cool old houses that were kind of abandoned from the '20s and even early 1900s, even late 1890s. And those homes are now being taken over by people who have money, and those people are having to move out. And so they now have more transportation costs to get back in.
And it's actually cheaper to live out there in terms of apartments and such. But it's kind of a gentrification that's not really good.
Audience member: Have you seen any projects that have adopted [INAUDIBLE] neighborhood development?
We have like six pilots in the pilot that's going on. We have like six different-- yeah. So those are happening soon, or they're underway right now.
Audience member: [INAUDIBLE] any kind of subsidy from Portland?
We're working with them really close. So the planning department is offering extra technical assistance. It ends up that most of how we're already doing those developments is like they're already doing this-- check, check, check. And it's sort of funny. That was one of the reasons none of them wanted to do it originally.
And I was like, no, we need Portland to be in on these pilots. It's the same thing-- you need the certification to show it and approve. But they're also having to do certain things that they wouldn't have done otherwise, which I think is good.
Audience member: [INAUDIBLE]
Yeah, likely buildings definitely and the whole EB-- the Existing Building.
Audience member: Could you talk a little more about the carbon credits program or policies that you have where for let's say for businesses that can't meet their reduction? Someone else is telling them [INAUDIBLE]
So we don't have a carbon program of any sort officially, except for this-- the building code thing I was talking about. And that hopefully will be adopted in the next few months about--
Audience member: For the rebate [INAUDIBLE]
Yeah, OK, right. So that's what we're proposing, and that will be hopefully adopted in the next few months. And basically there you're either doing what we want to have happen, which is meet this higher building standard, or you're having to pay a fee. And that's for both housing and for commercial development. Other than that, there is no-- and we're just trying to find a hook because we can't, as a city, just adopt the higher building code because the state doesn't let us. Boston, for example--
Audience member: But you're not restricted to building higher like to [INAUDIBLE] you just can't adopt it as the city?
Right, no, well, we're worried that what we're doing-- all we're doing is going around the law. And so as soon as we said we were going to do this, this happens a lot in Oregon is there's only one city over 500,000 people. So a law will be written that says all cities over 500,000 aren't allowed to adopt a carbon standard or aren't allowed to do whatever it is that Portland wants to do. So right now, we have for the first time--
Audience member: That's crazy.
Yeah, but it happens all the time. And for the first time in almost ever, we have a democratically controlled legislature. So Portland is this one little island in a very conservative state. It's a different kind of place.
Audience member: If Portland's getting an F, we're doomed. I mean, things like compared to what so many cities are doing, this is amazing. And if you're saying we're getting an F compared to where we need to be, what could you be doing to be getting a C-minus?
Well, we could require all new construction to meet a new level. We can require all existing to meet a new level. We could give huge incentives for taking transit. You could require in every community to have a whole lot more density. All those ideas and more will be in the plan hopefully that I come up with by June.
You absolutely have to have federal standards that increase fuel efficiency for cars. You have to have appliance standards. There's a whole bunch of stuff that only the federal government can do. State governments try to do it sometimes, and they do it piecemeal. And occasionally, cities try to do it, and then the state tells them they can't.
Audience member: California did.
Yeah, exactly. And so we did exactly what California did. Again, let them go through with the lawsuit, and let them go through all that. And we let them pay but the same idea.
Audience member: [INAUDIBLE] one more question?
OK, or two-- there you go.
Audience member: I was going to say, do you think you'd ever adopt a carbon training program, like Chicago Climate Exchange, to be more mainstream?
We are in the climate. So we were like the first city. We signed up for the thing because we kind of felt like we should.
And so yeah, so we're a member of Chicago Climate Exchange, which is a group that basically says you're going to reduce your emissions. And companies sign up to be a part of it or cities can. We're going to reduce our emissions by 1% a year, I think, is what it says. And if you don't, you can buy somebody else's savings from somewhere else. And if you do a whole lot more, you could actually sell them.
And so we've been able to meet it. We don't actually want to sell any of ours because we want to keep credit for it. So that's part of the thing. And the Chicago Climate Exchange also has-- if you want to talk about-- they have some real-- I think they have some real issues in terms of the quality of their offsets and things like that.
Audience member: [INAUDIBLE]
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, right. And your question?
Audience member: [INAUDIBLE]
Absolutely, they're better off because, in many developing countries, they don't have transmission systems yet. So if you don't have to pay-- let's say a kilowatt hour costs $0.10-- $0.05 of that is the transmission lines. You're paying for the distribution of. If you can just go directly to solar, the cost-effectiveness equation changes completely if they don't have to build a gas pipeline to every house. And so I work actually with a nonprofit organization called Green Empowerment that works on getting solar and solar for water pumping, especially into more rural areas of developing countries because they've never had pumped-- they never had water right there in the community.
Audience member: [INAUDIBLE]
Right, right. So and they don't have a whole system in many areas of having reliable electricity use. So having solar for the first time-- they don't mind compact fluorescent because they didn't have light bulbs everywhere. And that's not quite true because most of the developing countries actually have huge urban areas that are very modern. And so it's sort of this I think we kind of think somehow here we make up this thing in our head that it's a developing country is somehow rural, but they're not at all. And really the developing areas of the US have these same huge issues in some ways. So thanks.
This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. For educational and non-commercial use only.