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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
A switch to buses run on renewables could save the city money and also reduce its carbon footprint, a study found.

A switch to buses run on renewables could save the city money and also reduce its carbon footprint, a study found.

Buses run on renewables could be city’s next step toward sustainability goals

In an effort to meet the City of Madison’s zero waste goal, city officials are considering switching all municipal vehicles to renewable energy.

Replacing Madison’s municipal vehicles with a fleet run entirely on renewable energy would be the most cost effective way to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, according to a study presented by the Sustainable Madison Committee Monday.

The study group’s calculation included the costs and emissions of everything from city buses to SUVs to lawn mowers.The study showed that making those changes would have a greater impact than making specific retrofits to city buildings, another proposed solution.

Transitioning to a fleet run on renewables could be one of the city’s next steps in reaching its goal to reach zero net carbon emissions and switch to 100 percent renewable energy.

“The renewable energy buses are one of the best investments the city can make in terms of the cost to acquire a tonne of carbon reduction,” said sustainability consultant Josh Arnold.

The committee has already devoted significant time identifying areas where they could make quick, inexpensive changes to existing city facilities. After assessing pre-existing infrastructure, replacing leaky windows, improving lighting and adding insulation, City Facilities and Sustainability Initiatives chair Jeanne Hoffman said her committee has picked over “the low hanging fruit.”

Now, the committee is working to identify larger solutions that meet at the intersections of city’s demands — like energy-efficient infrastructure, and its supplies — including the abundant potential for solar and wind energy exploration.

Hoffman said she is excited about future opportunities to work with Madison utility providers to make widespread solar energy a reality in the city.

“Expanding solar is one of the things we are looking into,” she said.

However, challenges like aging infrastructure and funding present obstacles to meeting those goals in the short term. Instead, the city is considering their options as it makes longer range plans toward a greener future.

The committee hopes that by making adjustments to city facilities, they also encourage the private sector to work toward making a commitment to sustainability.

“I feel very strongly that if the city operation side we achieve this goal, it will have a huge impact on how the rest of the community sees the potential to reach that goal,” Hoffman said. “The work that we’ve done is already having a snowball effect and I’m excited to see what we can do in the future.”

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