Concerned About Climate Change? Take Action!
Governments around the world are developing policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide and methane. Portland and Multnomah County are leaders, with the 2015 Climate Action Plan calling for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Per person, that means reducing carbon from 10 tons per year to 2 tons.
Sounds like a radical change, and it is. To achieve this goal, every government agency, business, household, and individual will have to make deep cuts in their use of energy from fossil fuels. Overlook Neighborhood Association and Trillium Charter School are co-sponsoring this pair of small-group, two-hour workshops to help you determine your personal carbon dioxide emissions, and second, identify practical actions and choices to reduce them.
Workshop 1. What’s Your Carbon Footprint?
Monday, February 22, 7-9 PM at Trillium Charter School
The term ‘carbon footprint’ includes all the carbon dioxide (CO2*) you put into the atmosphere—directly or indirectly—by using energy generated from fossil fuels, including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, auto and airplane fuels; and by purchasing food and products made using fossil fuels.
Almost no one knows how much CO2 they create, because we don’t get feedback about our energy use in terms of CO2 equivalents. For example, looking at an electric utility bill, we see how many kilowatt-hours we used, but not how much coal or natural gas was used to generate that much power. Both PGE and Pacific Power generate electricity with fossil fuels, so when we cut our electricity use, we also reduce our CO2 emissions.
Before the workshop meets, we will get free copies of our past year’s bills from our electric and gas utilties, and/or fuel oil supplier. At the workshop we will translate those into CO2 emissions. We’ll use receipts for gasoline or diesel fuel, or estimate gasoline use from miles driven. We will also estimate CO2 from air miles traveled. We’ll add these up to determine our total household emissions. We will compare our results with others in our group, and with Portland averages. Finally, we will consider what it may take to cut our carbon to meet the goal of 80% reduction by 2050.
By the end of this workshop, you will have a much better idea of your household greenhouse gas emissions, or ‘carbon footprint’.
Workshop 2. Reducing Your Energy and CO2
Wednesday, February 24, 7-9 PM at Trillium Charter School
Each family is unique in how it uses energy, so we need specific ways to reduce that are practical, sensible, and fit their lifestyle and budget.
We will look at each of the biggest energy users in our homes and identify specific ways to reduce energy use, including home heating and air conditioning, water heating, kitchen and laundry appliances, lighting, and electronics. We’ll also examine auto and air travel use. Our priorities will be: No. 1, changing our behavior and choices, No. 2 no- or low-cost measures, and No. 3, long-term investments, such as weatherizing a house or replacing a furnace.
By the end of this workshop, you will have a customized kit of tools and strategies to help cut your household energy use and CO2 emissions. You will also have a clear sense of your challenges and opportunities.
* ”Carbon” is shorthand for CO2, the carbon dioxide molecule with one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. CO2 gas is a byproduct of burning coal, oil, gasoline, diesel, airplane fuel, natural gas or propane. CO2 and methane are the primary causes of global warming and climate change.
The workshops will be led by Overlook neighbor Mike O’Brien, a teacher and advocate for energy efficient buildings for over thirty years, most recently as the City of Portland’s Green Building Specialist. He and his wife Vana built their new house at 1905 North Alberta Street in 2007—it’s red and has plants growing on the roof. If you have questions about the workshop, please phone or text him at 503-819-8991.
In order to have sharing time among participants, group size is limited to 12 people, so don’t delay!
Workshops are free.
Nora will email you instructions for items to bring to the first workshop, including 12 months of electric and natural gas bills, and/or gallons of fuel oil; gallons of gasoline OR auto mileage and MPG, and air travel over the past year. She will provide contact information for your utility customer service. Please bring a journal or pad of paper to record notes.