Eugene Climate Connection Volume 1: Summer 2021

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Welcome to the Eugene Climate Connection!

This newsletter is a tool the City of Eugene will use to share the past quarter’s climate accomplishments and updates on progress being made in Eugene's Climate Action Plan 2.0. With so much to understand and keep up with, this newsletter will be an easy way to "stay in the know" about Eugene's climate recovery journey!

In this issue, you can read about how the City of Eugene:

  • Met its goal of carbon-neutral operations last year by purchasing carbon offsets;
  • Started a voluntary Home Energy Score program;
  • Completed transportation projects to enhance travel options;
  • Purchased a fleet of hybrid police vehicles;
  • Planted trees as part of new public projects;
  • Launched the 2021 Sustainability Equity Panel;
  • Developed new resources for electric vehicle and e-bike owners;
  • Launched the Shift Campaign,
  • and more!

Similar to the CAP2.0, this newsletter includes information on data, updates on actions and ways our community participates in our climate work.

Climate Recovery Goal Update

Where Are We on the Map?

Did you know that Eugene's Climate Action Plan 2.0 acts as a road map to meet our climate goals? To understand where we are on the map, Eugene completes something called a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory every other year. This report calculates pollution, or emissions, that come from greenhouse gases. These emissions happen when we do things like travel, heat our homes, and throw away our trash. Eugene measures greenhouse emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or MTCO2e.

Eugene's 2019 Community GHG Inventory:

The most recent GHG inventory shows that Eugeneans created the most emissions by driving cars and freight trucks and using energy like electricity and natural gas in their businesses and homes. Altogether, these emissions totaled 1,023,000 MTCO2e. That's the same as 222,600 cars on the road for one year.


The graph below shows Eugene's progress on community GHG emissions:

Eugene's Commitment to Action

Eugene Meets its 2020 Carbon-Neutrality Goal by Purchasing Carbon Offsets

The City of Eugene purchased carbon offsets to meet the Climate Recovery Ordinance goal of carbon-neutrality for City operations in 2020.

Eugene acquired the offsets through The Climate Trust, a Portland-based company that invests in carbon sequestration projects. The $52,000 offset was invested in the Winston Creek Improved Forest Management Project in Morton, Washington.

We're looking for even more ways to reduce emissions in the future by making climate-sensitive operational changes and upgrades to our facilities and vehicle fleets. In the rest of this section, you can read about some of the changes we're already making.

City Launches Voluntary Home Energy Score Program

Eugene homeowners may want to take climate action at home, but they often have incomplete information about how efficiently their house uses energy.

The City offers a voluntary Home Energy Score (HES) program, which connects homeowners to a state-certified inspector who helps them estimate a home’s energy efficiency and plan for cost-effective improvements. The inspections use the Oregon Department of Energy's standard home energy scorecard.

An HES score can help local homeowners and homebuyers:

  • Save money on utility bills;
  • Reduce consumption of water, electricity and natural gas;
  • Increase a home's value at sale;
  • Accurately understand the energy consumption of a house on the market.

Public Works Plants Trees Alongside New Projects

To improve the local environment and offset emissions from construction, Public Works Engineering (PWE) has started planting more street trees. PWE has committed to planting 103 trees with its 2021 capital improvement projects.

Additionally, PWE is using environmental justice indicators, like low existing canopy and poverty rates, to prioritize which neighborhoods will receive new trees.

Transportation Projects Enhance Travel Options

By 2035, we expect to have 42,000 more residents in Eugene. If all those residents drive cars, road traffic and related greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase. Emissions from transportation fuels (primarily from the combustion of vehicle gasoline and diesel fuels) make up 53% of local emissions in Eugene. To address this, the City’s Transportation System Plan calls for tripling the percentage of trips made by walking, biking, and transit by 2035.

Each year, the City constructs transportation projects focused on improving access, connectivity, and safety. Our goal is to build a transportation network that is accessible for everyone and that supports walking, biking, rolling, and taking transit. Several larger projects focused on building better streets and paths for walking and biking will be completed in 2021.

  • Two projects on Willamette Street focus on improving access and flow in South Eugene. Willamette Street, from 18th to 20th Avenue, is being repaved and converted to two-way with a new northbound bike lane, crosswalks, and updated sidewalk access ramps. Willamette Street, from 23rd to 29th Avenue, will also become more walking and biking friendly when the South Willamette Street Improvement project finalizes this fall. The project features new pavement, bike lanes, a center turn lane, widened sidewalks, sidewalk lighting, and street trees.
  • Pedestrian crossings are being constructed throughout the City to improve walkability and connectivity. The Northeast Eugene Livable Streets project constructed eight enhanced crossings — updating sidewalk access ramps, adding new striping and signage, and installing pedestrian flashing beacons. A pedestrian activated signal and median were also constructed on Highway 99 in front of the St. Vincent de Paul Lindholm Center, providing a safe option for people walking and biking to cross the highway.
  • Both the West Bank and South Bank segments of the riverbank path will be repaved and illuminated this year. The West Bank Path Project completed this summer and focused on repaving, improving path entrances, and adding lighting. The South Bank Path Project is currently under construction and will add a new concrete path realigned away from the top of bank, rebuild the existing asphalt path into a gravel trail, and add lighting.

Eugene Police Purchase Hybrid Patrol Vehicles

You will be seeing new, climate-friendly vehicles around town in the colors of the Eugene Police Department.

EPD purchased nine hybrid police SUVs as part of the City’s commitment to purchasing lower-emissions equipment. The new SUVs offer reduced maintenance and fuel costs for EPD, and are estimated to save 1,200 gallons of fuel per vehicle.

EPD also purchased one electric vehicle and four electric bikes that will be used by patrol officers in downtown Eugene.

Transitioning EPD’s fleet to more fuel efficient and carbon-free options helps the City meet its goal of carbon-neutral operations after 2020.

New Community Resources for Electric Mobility

Eugene has a new online resource to help community members find information about electric transportation options. The page helps residents learn more about e-bikes, electric scooters and electric vehicles (EVs).

In Eugene, transportation accounts for 53% of local greenhouse gas emissions. The more we adopt alternatives to gas-powered vehicles when we travel around town, the more we can reduce carbon emitted locally.

For example, Eugene's Electric Vehicle Strategy set a target of half of all cars in Eugene being EVs by 2030. The E-Mobility page for EVs provides information like where charging stations are located, helping drivers make the shift to EV-ownership.

City Selects New Bikeshare Operator

The City has selected Cascadia Mobility to be the new operator of the PeaceHealth Rides bikeshare program.

The Portland-based nonprofit says service will remain unchanged and that a new equity pricing plan and hardware improvements are coming. PeaceHealth will remain a sponsor.

“Shared mobility is a community asset," said Cascadia Mobility CEO Brodie Hylton. "The nonprofit model is ideally suited to operating programs in smaller urban communities, such as Eugene. We are thrilled to begin operations of the PeaceHealth Rides bike share program and to collaborate with the Eugene community.”

Building our Community Capacity

2021 Sustainability Equity Panel Begins

Eight local organizations have selected representatives to participate in Eugene's Sustainability Equity Panel.

The panel will advise City staff to make sure that sustainability-focused projects in areas including transportation, climate action and housing are sensitive to the needs of marginalized communities.

Participants were selected to ensure broad representation and provide a mix of voices from both small grassroots groups and larger organizations. They are:

  • Eugene-Springfield National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC)
  • St. Vincent De Paul Society of Lane County
  • Community Outreach Through Radical Empowerment (CORE)
  • Lane Independent Living Alliance (LILA)
  • The Arc, Lane County
  • Lane East Asian Network (LEAN)
  • Sapsik’ʷałá Teacher Education Program

“Nobody knows the needs of our community better than the organizations that serve our marginalized residents,” said Mayor Lucy Vinis. “Climate change is a huge challenge, but it is also an opportunity to build systems that break down historic barriers to participation. We’re grateful to these organizations for sharing their expertise and helping Eugene to embed equity, accessibility and inclusion into our sustainability work.”

City Launches Shift Campaign to Help Change Individual Actions

The Shift Campaign launched on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, with a series of Eco Challenges that encourage participants to make small yet impactful shifts toward more sustainable living.

These include:

  • Reducing food and yard waste;
  • Using active and public transportation;
  • Protecting water quality;
  • and more!

The Shift Campaign is an umbrella of projects which the City of Eugene and the Eugene Climate Collaborative partners can use to provide public education about small shifts towards more sustainable living. This is one part of the community's efforts to meeting our climate recovery goals.

What Eco-Challenge will you take on this fall?

Updates from the Eugene Climate Collaborative

The Eugene Climate Collaborative (ECC) was created as part of the Climate Action Plan 2.0. Since the CAP 2.0 was adopted in July 2020, the ECC has continued to look for ways to pursue our community's collective climate goals.

ECC partners are "large lever shareholders": organizations that have significant oversight and impact on community-wide fossil fuel use and GHG emissions, or have the ability to influence systems that enable the community to adapt and prepare for climate change.

Projects ECC partners are collaborating on this year include:

  • Building electrification, decarbonization, and energy efficiency.
  • Carbon offsets and sequestration.

Projects on the ECC's agenda for 2022 include:

  • Transportation electrification and decarbonization.
  • Sustainability and equity.
  • Climate resiliency and natural hazards.

Sustainability Commission Begins 2022 Climate Work

This summer the Sustainability Commission, an advisory committee made up of Eugene community members, welcomed four new at-large Commissioners: Dennis Reynolds, Mitra Gruwell, Hannah Shafer and Jan Bohman.

The Commission presented its FY21 annual report to City Council in July, where commission leadership and staff presented an update of its recommendations to Council and next steps from staff.

In the fall, staff will provide an update to Council on waste prevention at large events. Later recommendations will be included in upcoming work sessions related to climate funding and CAP2.0 additional strategies.

In 2022, the Commission plans to continue working on recommendations related to urban forestry, resiliency and community education, carbon offsets and sequestration, and other climate-related city efforts including transportation, housing and emergency preparedness.

The Commission will come back to City Council in fall 2021 to seek approval for their FY22 Work Plan and looks forward to a productive year ahead.

Thank you for reading the Summer 2021 Eugene Climate Connection!

Do you want your climate work featured in the next edition? Send information and photos to Samantha Roberts at Sroberts@eugene-or.gov.