116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - The Iowa City Community School District this year could see a 48 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions since 2018, putting it years ahead of a goal of a 45 percent reduction by 2030.
By 2024, the district's total emissions are estimated to be 6,346 metric tons of CO2, a 62 percent reduction from 2018, according to a report from Design Engineers of Cedar Rapids presented Tuesday to the Iowa City school board.
'I'm very happy to tell you that we will have reduced our carbon footprint by 48 percent at the end of this year, nine years ahead of schedule,” said Duane VanHermert, the Iowa City district's director of facilities.
From 2024 and beyond, only small improvements from year to year are projected if no further reduction strategies are put in place, according to the report.
A future report will provide the district with options, timelines and budgets for further reductions to reach net zero emissions.
The district is considering solar panels, energy efficient equipment in its nutrition services centers and adding electric buses.
VanHermert said studies have been done on several buildings to see if they could be suitable for solar panels, but he is concerned about the damage arrays could cause to the roofs.
A solar field might be a better solution, VanHermert said. 'The way to handle it is work with utility companies and let them invest in the solar panels, and let us provide the land for them to put it on,” he said.
The district began working with Design Engineers in 2020 on its climate action plan.
The district adopted a resolution to address climate change in 2019 by conducting an inventory of emissions, establishing targets and providing annual updates.
The University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education provided the district with a baseline of greenhouse gas emissions in early 2020, and suggested emissions reduction targets.
Design Engineers found that the district's greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 were 12,926 metric tons of C02 equivalent, 23 percent lower than in 2018.
The reduction is impressive considering the district's total building square footage increased during that time, according to the report.
The largest component of the reduction is lower CO2 emissions associated with electricity purchased from MidAmerican Energy as well as the district's continued conversion from natural gas to geothermal heating, according to the report.
Two of the three utility companies serving the district have set aggressive renewable energy targets, according to the report, and any future reductions will go a long way in helping the district reach its goals.
MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy emission factors decreased in 2019 compared with 2018, but Linn County REC had higher emissions in 2019 than in 2018, the report said.
Since most of the district's decrease in carbon emissions can be attributed to utility companies, the report said the district will need to determine how aggressive it wants to be in continuing to reduce emissions.
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