Measuring the Footprint

Measuring the Footprint

Travis County Carbon Footprint

According to the ACPP annual report, the average Texan emits 27 tonnes of energy-related CO2 each year – the worst state in the union; the average American emits 20 tonnes. By contrast, the average Travis County resident emitted 14 tonnes in 2007. (That's counting only emissions from electricity, natural gas, and transportation fuel.) While we might like to credit Austin's eco-awareness, we do better primarily because industry (including oil and gas) does its dirty business elsewhere. The report offers no plan for cutting communitywide emissions or setting achievable reduction goals.


Travis County Community Inventory

Energy use by community residents, businesses, and industry contributed the equivalent of roughly 7.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2007. Transport­ation emissions totaled about 6.3 million tonnes, and waste treatment contributed another million, for a total carbon footprint of almost 15 million tonnes.

Breaking down each of these categories:

Measuring the Footprint

Electricity and Natural Gas Consumption

Commercial electricity 42%

Residential electricity 36%

Industrial electricity 15%

Residential natural gas 5%

Commercial natural gas 2%

Industrial natural gas <1%

Transportation Emissions

On-road 85%

Air travel 12%

Off-road 2%

Bus 1%

Train <1%

Wastewater and Landfill Emissions

Landfills* 98%

Wastewater treatment 2%

* Landfill data is about 75% complete and will rise with the addition of landfill gas data from the remaining two landfills in Travis County.

Total Emissions in Travis County, 2007: 14,953,558 tonnes

Electricity and natural gas consumption: 7,630,719

Transportation emissions: 6,305,748

Wastewater and landfill emissions: 1,017,091


City of Austin Municipal Carbon Footprint

The city's official greenhouse-gas emissions inventory totaled about 168,000 tonnes for 2007 (totals below) – but this figure applies only to those emission sources over which city employees have some control. It doesn't include "community demand driven services" such as power plants, the city's now-shuttered landfill, and wastewater treatment plants – which actually produce some 97.5% of the city's actual emissions. That footprint belongs to the end users: residents and businesses.

City of Austin Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by Source, 2007

Measuring the Footprint

GHG Emission SourceCO2-Equivalent Tonnes
City buildings electricity use92,579
City vehicles & off-road equipment*45,534
Building heating*18,600
Streetlights & traffic signals electricity use 18,156
Waste generated by city buildings 3,608
Personal-vehicle use for business purposes 626
Air conditioning refrigerants*606
Stationary generators*493
Total municipal emission inventory180,202**
Power plants*6,103,632
FM 812 landfill*233,567
Austin Water Utility electricity use112,883
Wastewater treatment*16,584
“Community demand driven” emissions6,466,666

* Indicates direct greenhouse-gas emissions; the others are indirect.

** For unexplained reasons, table and pie-chart figures in report don't match.


Measuring the Footprint

Cumulative Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Avoided by the ACPP

(through December 2008, except where noted)

Program/Project CO2-Equivalent Tonnes
Austin Energy – Energy Generation
Solar photovoltaics rebate program *2,800
City departments on GreenChoice 33,900
Austin Energy – Energy Conservation
Demand side mgmt. (existing buildings) 123,400
Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure
Building code changes (new buildings)
Single-family homes 3,700
Commercial and multifamily 12,200
Compact fluorescent recycling program *200
Austin Energy – Clean Cities
Electric vehicle incentives 690
Austin Energy Total 176,890
Fleet Services: alternative fuel use 1,800
Solid Waste Services: single-stream recycling 9,500
Communications & technology management 9
Green purchasing
Vehicle trip reduction: i-Ride transit program *240
City Cycle bike-share program <1
Solar scooter pilot project <1
Heat Island Mitigation: NeighborWoods program 10
Large shade tree program 2
Austin Community Trees program 1
Total Other Departments 11,563
Total Avoided CO2-Equivalent Tonnes 188,453

* through March 2009

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