City Launches Carbon Calculator, Hosts Climate Expo

The Climate Protection Program starts off 2010 with a bang

The city's Austin Climate Protection Program is at last reaching out to involve the broader community in reducing the region's contribution to global warming. This week, it launched its long-awaited local carbon footprint calculator – offering a more accurate measurement of an individual's greenhouse-gas emissions from daily activities. The ACPP version improves on national and generic calculators by allowing city of Austin utility customers to directly upload their data (enter a billing account number) for electricity, water, wastewater, and solid waste. It also uses regional, not national, emissions factors. Once a user calculates his or her footprint, the website offers tips on how to lower it. (As of yet, the site provides no certified local carbon offsets available for purchase; a city green fund for "local carbon-reducing projects" is still in development.) You can try out the calculator – both the one-minute and the comprehensive versions – at www.coolaustin.org.

Also, Austin Energy is hosting the 2010 Austin Climate Protection Conference & Expo. The free event takes place Friday and Saturday, Jan. 15-16, at the Palmer Events Center. The Friday program offers continuing education for professionals; Saturday speakers will address topics of general interest for all Central Texans, including the carbon footprint calculator, Energy Rebates Made Easy, and hopefully lively panel discussions on new technologies, transportation, water conservation for greenhouse-gas reductions, and green building. A variety of green exhibitors will be at the expo; the highlight is an AltCar Expo ride and drive area, where folks can try driving natural gas, hybrid, plug-in, propane, and other alternative vehicles. To learn more, visit www.austinclimateexpo.com.

Finally, the ACPP is bringing back the city's annual environmental awards. Do you know of an individual, business, community organization/nonprofit, school, educational program, governmental agency, or city of Austin department that deserves recognition? The awards will honor outstanding contributions toward the protection, conservation, and improvement of Austin's natural resources. Nominations are being accepted through March 1. Winners will be recognized by Austin City Council on Earth Day, April 22. For info on judging criteria, and to submit a nomination, visit www.coolaustin.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Climate Protection Program, Austin Energy, carbon footprint calculator

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