HARRISBURG – On the first anniversary of signing an executive order establishing the first statewide goal to reduce carbon pollution, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a 3 percent reduction in state government electricity, natural gas and steam use for commonwealth facilities.
That executive order also established the interagency GreenGov Council, which is analyzing state agency energy and sustainability strategies.
“Pennsylvania is taking action to reduce our carbon footprint and serve as a leader in green policies to address climate change,” said Wolf.
“The first year has proven that our ambitious goals are achievable to improve our energy efficiency, protect the environment and generate cost-savings.”
The executive order, signed Jan. 8, 2019, set a goal of a 26 percent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, from 2005 levels.
A key contributor to the initial 3 percent reduction is investments through the state’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Act or GESA program, which allows public entities to fund energy efficiency projects with the savings from reduced energy costs.
The GESA program expanded to 13 projects investing over $124 million in energy efficiency upgrades, saving $6.8 million each year.
The Wolf administration also began an initiative to gather and analyze data from the commonwealth’s 8,000 electricity and natural gas meters.
The data will help identify further facility energy reductions and cost-saving project opportunities through the GESA program and prioritize capital improvement projects.
In 2019, the commonwealth purchased 308,978 MWhs of certified Renewable Energy Credits, achieving the executive order’s goal to offset the commonwealth’s electricity usage total by 40 percent.
The purchase was made possible by utilizing a small percentage, less than 10 percent, of the favorable electricity contracts resulting in savings of $2.8 million in 2019. Pennsylvania is currently ranked #35 on the EPA’s Green Power Partnership National Top 100.
“State government has a responsibility to take a leadership role in implementing best practices to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency,” said Wolf.
“I commend the Council and state agencies for breaking from the status quo and exploring new opportunities to expand our green efforts that will reduce costs and protect the environment.”
The GreenGov Council is co-chaired by the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and General Services.
The council is developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to significantly scale up state agencies’ energy efficiency and use of renewable energy to meet ambitious targets over the next five years.
The council developed the GreenGov Agency Certification Checklist, a first-of-its-kind tool for agencies to annually evaluate their progress. More than 30 state agencies are participating to improve their green practices.
The GreenGov Council is also working toward a goal of 990 electric or hybrid plug-in vehicles to the state fleet by 2025. The commonwealth is in discussion with auto manufacturers and infrastructure vendors to provide charging stations.
Action is also being taken to meet the executive order’s high-performance design criteria into its facility design and construction practices.
To date, 11 state-owned buildings, along with one build-to-suit leased building, are being designed or in construction to meet or exceed the high-performance building standards.