An image of the city s Fleetwood-Jourdain Center from the zero-emissions study.

City Council members Monday night are scheduled to review a Municipal Operations Zero Emissions Strategy Report and recommendations from two advisory groups that call for “transformative change” to reach the report’s goals.

The report calls for the city to pursue nine strategies:

  1. Rightsizing the city’s building portfolio by retiring space not needed to serve the people.
  2. Energy efficiency improvements with lighting upgrades and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.
  3. Electrification to reduce use of natural gas and fuel oil.
  4. Onsite renewable energy — increasing capacity from 36,000 to as much as 4.6 million kilowatt hours.
  5. Offsite renewable energy — increasing it to meet up to half of municipal electricity needs by 2035.
  6. Efficient streetlights.
  7. Clean fuel technologies for the city’s fleet.
  8. Rightsizing the city’s fleet.
  9. Reducing vehicle miles traveled.

The report looked at how to achieve net zero emissions at various city buildings, and, as an example, suggested that improvements to the Fleetwood-Jourdain center could be achieved for a cost of around $500,000.

Those changes would involve eliminating the use of natural gas at the facility and generating much of the electricity needed to run the facility from an on-site solar photovoltaic system.

The report estimates that reaching the zero emission goals under the “transformative change” strategy by 2035 would cost more than $70 million but would result in annual operating cost savings of $3.7 million.

It says the least aggressive approach, labeled “initial change” would cost at least $36 million and would result in annual cost savings of $1.4 million. It would rely much more heavily of the purchase of renewable energy certificates to meet the zero emission goal.

A memo from the Evanston Environment Board endorses the most aggressive “transformative change” approach but recommends giving a lower priority to “downsizing buildings” saying “there are community concerns that will require time and extensive engagement to resolve.”

The city’s Utilities Commission also supports the “transformative change” approach but its memo says commission members “have raised substantive questions” about the reports “methodology, data, cost estimates and overall rigor.”

Despite that is says the report “may serve as a useful tool” to aid the city in determining effective, cost-efficient strategies to meet certain Climate Action and Resilience Plan goals.

It notes that the “transformative change” option is the most expensive of the three alternatives presented by the study and that “not all Evanston residents will be comfortable with an endorsement of that option, given other financial stresses and priorities that are important to our community.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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