The City of Lancaster is excited to announce that it has significantly increased its support for green energy through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs). As of December 1, 2016, 100% of energy used for City street lights and 50% of energy used for all City buildings will be offset by wind energy. Previously, the City of Lancaster offset 10% of all energy used. RECs are similar to carbon emissions trading, but instead of trading tons of carbon avoided kilowatt hours of electricity are traded. Generally, this is accomplished by paying a small premium in addition to the regular electric bill. This small cost increase of less than $1 per resident annually helps to support the production of green energy nationwide and ensures that it is being added to the grid for consumption by households, businesses, and industry.
Purchasing RECs is part of the City of Lancaster’s commitment to sustainability that is outlined in its 2015-2017 Strategic Plan; it prioritizes creating green procurement policies and establishing targets for energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The purchase of RECs is a green procurement policy and also offsets the City’s electricity carbon emissions. These newly purchased RECs offset about 25,500 metric tons of carbon, or the equivalent emissions of 5,000 cars in a year.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the built environment accounts for two-thirds of carbon emissions in the United States. Carbon dioxide is emitted by buildings through the consumption of fossil fuel-based energy (e.g., coal plants, natural gas); it is also a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere and is the primary cause of global climate change, which is leading to worldwide increases in drought, flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, heat stress, extinction, and unprecedented ecological stress, among many other social and political struggles.
Mitigating carbon emissions is essential to lessening the devastating impacts of climate change and ensuring the prosperity of our communities. The City of Lancaster is proud to demonstrate its commitment to this pressing issue.