Community Strategic Energy Management: Tacoma, WA

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The City of Tacoma has a long-standing commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This began in April 2005 when the Mayor signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement pledging that Tacoma would strive to cut emissions by 7% from 1990 levels by 2012 as established in the Kyoto Protocol. A Green Ribbon Climate Action Task Force further defined the city’s carbon reduction goals, and in 2008 the City of Tacoma formalized a Climate Action Plan which set a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 40% over 1990 levels by the year 2020.

A 2012 Climate Action Plan report detailed progress made toward the city’s emissions goals. It also laid the groundwork to establish a new Tacoma Environmental Action Plan (TEAP) to aggressively pursue actions toward established goals. The plan’s categories for action include Buildings and Energy, Transportation, Materials Management, Natural Systems, Air and Local Food, and Climate Resilience.

Building energy represents about 40% of emissions in Tacoma. The electricity procured by the municipal utility provider, Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU), is sourced from regional hydroelectric dams and is about 98% renewable and carbon-free. Initial analysis suggested that building energy usage and related emissions were largely due to natural gas used for heating, so initial actions focused on weatherization retrofits. And while the TEAP mandated the development of a Resource Conservation Plan and general government policy to guide energy efficient investments, operations, and behaviors in city facilities, the city lacked a mechanism to identify inefficient buildings, prioritize upgrades, and guide improvements.

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