The Department of Natural Resources and Parks is King County’s first agency to achieve an ambitious goal set by Executive Constantine to make its operations and purchases carbon neutral.
The Department of Natural Resources and Parks is King County’s first agency to make its operations and purchases carbon neutral, achieving Executive Dow Constantine’s ambitious goal a year ahead of schedule.
All King County departments are directed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from operations and purchases as part of the county's 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan, considered one of the boldest of its kind in the United States.
“We’re delivering tangible results that demonstrate our strong commitment to confronting climate change,” said Executive Constantine. “By having one of our largest departments make its operations and purchases carbon neutral, we’re setting an example for how public- and private-sector organizations can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
DNRP's success will have a significant impact on the county’s overall effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Wastewater treatment plants and pump stations account for more than half of all energy consumed at King County facilities.
The progress made by other departments – particularly Transportation and Executive Services – helped King County surpass its 2015 goal to reduce operational energy use across all its buildings and facilities. The county reduced its energy use by more than 20 percent compared to 2007, which reduced energy costs by more than $3 million each year.
Executive Constantine announced the DNRP Beyond Carbon Neutral Initiative in 2014, directing the agency to become the county’s first carbon-neutral department by the end of 2017. DNRP created a comprehensive accounting of its carbon impact, quantifying both how it releases and how it reduces and removes greenhouse gas emissions.
Conserving energy and increasing the amount of renewable energy
DNRP achieved the goal by aggressively stepping up its energy-conservation efforts and increasing the amount of renewable energy it produced:
•Increased recycling at transfer stations – including more than 18,000 tons of cardboard, metals and other materials – which reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from mining, farming and manufacturing new products.
•Planted 41,000 trees, which absorb carbon as they grow and take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
•Produced loop biosolids from the wastewater treatment process, which resulted in the reuse of 26,000 metric tons of biosolids that replace synthetic fertilizers, add carbon to soils, and help plants and trees store carbon.
•Generated renewable energy, an equivalent of 180,000 million metric British thermal units of pipeline-quality renewable biogas.
•The Regional Trail System that provides alternative transportation options
•Green building programs that encourage using recycled, sustainably created and resource-conserving materials
•Supporting locally grown food and farmland preservation
•Forest protection, which reduces urban sprawl and stores carbon in protected trees and soils
“As an agency dedicated to people and the planet, we take responsibility for our footprint," said Christie True, Director of Natural Resources and Parks. "We are committed to climate action and to removing more greenhouse gas emissions than we release."