WEST WINDSOR: Public meeting set to discuss draft of township’s Climate Action Plan

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
WEST WINDSOR — A public meeting to discuss a draft version of the West Windsor Township’s Climate Action Plan, prepared by the township’s Environmental Commission, has been set for next week at the Municipal Building on Clarksville Road.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in Room A. The Environmental Commission is seeking public comment from West Windsor Township residents and businesses at the meeting.
The township’s proposed Climate Action Plan, which was released in July, was prepared for the Environmental Commission by the Spiezle Architectural Group and Terra Neutral Consulting. The cost was covered by a Sustainable Jersey grant.
The Climate Action Plan summarizes the science of climate change and the risks that it imposes.
The plan provides an estimate of the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions — the carbon footprint — within the township, due to municipal government operations and community sources at large.
It also establishes a greenhouse gas emissions goal, and proposes actions to meet that goal. The plan also initiates a discussion on how township residents should plan for — and adapt — to climate change.
According to the Climate Action Plan, West Windsor Township residents produced about 340,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents of greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. Of that amount, municipal government accounted for 1 percent, or about 3,500 metric tons.
Most of the greenhouse gases in West Windsor Township — about 54 percent — are produced by transportation. Heating fuels account for 24.5 percent, and electricity usage makes up 18.5 percent. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
Meanwhile, West Windsor Township’s greenhouse gas reduction goal is aligned with the State of New Jersey’s goal — to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2020, and a further reduction of emissions to 80 percent below 2006 levels by2050.
Greenhouse gas reductions by township residents are voluntary, not mandated. Overall, the township would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 96,000 metric tons between now and 2020 to meet the state’s goal.
Business-as-usual emissions reductions should total 50,000 metric tons, leaving an additional 46,000 metric tons for which the township must implement actions in order to achieve the 2020 goals.
While the Climate Action Plan points out the issues, it also offers suggestions and strategies to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.
The municipal government can educate its employees about energy conservation measures, such as turning out the lights when they leave a room. A policy mandating that newly purchased equipment should meet Energy Star standards could be adopted.
Additional recommendations include requiring owners of large commercial buildings to track their energy usage, as well as requiring all new residential and commercial construction to meet Energy Star standards.
The plan also suggests steps should be taken to encourage “better and increased public transportation options,” and to work with surrounding municipalities and the state to provide better access to public transportation to encourage residents to reduce their reliance on personal automobiles.
The Climate Action Plan is available at www.westwindsornj.org. 