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Tracking government's carbon footprint

Washington is dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help slow the impacts of climate change. State agencies are joining the effort. With direction from the Legislature, state agencies are working with us to monitor and reduce their emissions.

The Legislature directs state agencies to track and reduce greenhouse gases

State agencies were directed by the Legislature in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and report these reductions to Ecology. This requirement is part of the State Agency Climate Leadership Act which sets a goal for agencies to reduce their emissions:

  • 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020
  • 36 percent below by 2035
  • 57.5 percent below by 2050

Government greenhouse gas reductions in action

Each agency is required to come up with strategies to meet its reduction goals. One example of how state agencies are approaching this task is the carbon reduction progress being made at Washington State Parks.

Washington State Parks' efforts have been extremely successful, even exceeding the agency's reduction goals. Washington State Parks is required to reduce its annual emissions by 2,036 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020. The most recent report shows that, in 2015, the agency had already reduced emissions by 5,013 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Washington State Parks has taken a variety of approaches to cutting carbon:

  • Parks around the state have been installing solar panels.
  • Solar heating is used for water for bathhouses.
  • Solar panels are powering Discover Pass ticketing stations and lighting up entrance signs. 
Ticket station powered by solar energy

Solar ticket station in Millersylvania State Park.

At Pearrygin Lake State Park in Eastern Washington, visitors can enjoy a dip in the lake followed by a hot, solar-powered shower. The solar hot water system will eliminate about one ton of greenhouse gas emissions per year. In addition to reducing emissions, the system is helping the park save money on energy costs.

Parks are also opting to use pedal power over fossil fuels. In 14 parks around the state, rangers and park staff are using bicycles for routine park duties. Campers at Millersylvania State Park in Thurston County may be greeted by a ranger patrolling on two wheels.

The investment in solar power and bicycles, along with other emission reduction strategies, is helping Washington State Parks reach its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On track to meeting reduction goals

Washington state agencies are on track to meet 2020 reduction targets because of actions like the parks have made. Reductions are coming from building improvements, employee commute trip reduction programs, upgrading to more efficient appliances, and other energy conserving strategies.

Climate change is a global problem and it will take a collaborative effort to slow its impacts. Washington state agencies are working together to be part of the solution.