Healthy communities – 2010
Related GRI Indicators

Click on the indicator numbers below to read more about our performance related to this topic.

EN 5: Internal Energy Efficiency
EN 18: Initiatives to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
WU 12: Source Water Protection Activities
EN 22: Waste Management
EN 23: Significant Spills

Bull trout from the McKenzie River

EWEB recognizes that it relies on sensitive natural resources – including the McKenzie River – to support both our water and electric utility operations. We also know that the design, procurement, and operation of buildings, vehicles, equipment and supplies are significant opportunities to manage the life-cycle environmental, social and economic impacts associated with the operation of large public works organizations like EWEB.

We are therefore committed to minimize and mitigate our impact on the healthy functioning of important ecosystems and implementing practices that preserve natural resources, reduce waste, prevent pollution and demonstrate leadership in building a healthy, sustainable community.

Looking at business, operational and resource management issues in terms of efficiency and sustainability is consistent with EWEB's mission, vision and values. EWEB incorporates the principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability across all aspects of our operations.

Current Strategies and Performance Highlights

Sustainability policy and triple bottom line analysis

In November 2010, EWEB commissioners adopted a new Sustainability Policy, formally embracing a decision-making framework that proactively considers environmental, social and economic impacts and incorporates the risks, benefits, impacts and potential mitigation options of major project and policy decisions. This new policy includes a decision support methodology that we refer to as the triple bottom line (TBL) analysis framework. This framework is designed to help staff consider in a systematic way the risks and opportunities as well as the impacts and potential mitigation options of proposed projects or policy. Projects developed using the TBL framework provide more comprehensive information to aid more holistic decision making.

The TBL analysis framework has already been applied to a range of projects of very different scale including the potential relocation of customer service and administrative functions from EWEB's downtown headquarters to EWEB's Roosevelt location in West Eugene, to the use of 100% recycled content office paper, the conversion of woodstoves to ductless heat pumps and the consideration of bill paying functions. The framework will also play an important role in the evaluation of different power resources choices to be considered in the 2011 Integrated Electric Resource Plan.

Measure and manage our greenhouse gas emissions

EWEB has completed its second annual greenhouse gas inventory looking at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with both our operations and energy portfolio for 2010.

The large majority of these emissions were associated with EWEB's portfolio of owned, co-owned and contracted electric power resources. In 2010, EWEB was directly and indirectly responsible for nearly 397,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent* (MTCO2e) from our portfolio of electric power resources. This increase of 70% above 2009 levels is primarily in contracted and purchased power resources (scope 3). The higher emissions are related to an increased volume of wholesale power purchases due to more hedge trading in 2010 compared to 2009 levels.

In 2010, the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with our operations and facilities management activities – such as fleet and equipment use and the purchase of goods and services – totaled more than 28,000 MTCO2e, compared to nearly 22,000 MTCO2e in 2009. This increase is largely attributable to additional indirect GHG emissions in our supply chain associated with capital infrastructure and building maintenance projects. Encouragingly, EWEB's direct operations emissions decreased 13% from 2009 levels.

While these operational emissions are modest relative to our energy portfolio, they represent some of the most readily available opportunities for climate mitigation action. To help focus greenhouse gas reductions efforts EWEB adopted goals to reduce our operations emissions by 25% below 2009 levels by 2020, reduce fossil fuel use 50% by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality for our operations by 2050.

These goals were developed by EWEB's Sustainability Action Team, a cross-departmental team, whose mission is to help the organization envision, plan and realize business practices that foster environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic strength, now and in the long term.

During 2010, EWEB partnered with the City of Eugene in the development of the Eugene Community Climate and Energy Action Plan. The Plan, approved for implementation by the Eugene City Council in September, sets out community-wide greenhouse gas reduction goals and establishes objectives and priority action items for six issue areas:

  • Buildings and energy
  • Food and agriculture
  • Land use and transportation
  • Consumption and waste
  • Health and social services
  • Urban natural resources

Many different community members, government and not for profit agencies, businesses and schools will be involved in implementing the actions to help prepare for increasing climate variability and fossil fuel price rises and availability fluctuations.

2009 and 2010 Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Water source protection

EWEB's water source protection program seeks to systematically identify potential threats to the safety and quality of the McKenzie River watershed and implement pollution prevention and resource conservation programs. In 2010, EWEB investments in source protection activities totaled more than $610,000. In addition $158,000 were leveraged from partner agencies including EPA, Oregon State University, United States Geological Survey, Oregon Governors Fund and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Among accomplishments in 2010, EWEB in partnership with the Bonneville Power Administration helped fund the acquisition by the McKenzie River Trust of a 92-acre parcel on the lower McKenzie near Walterville. Two-thirds of the property will be restored and managed as riparian habitat for fish and wildlife, while the other third will be used as a demonstration farm showcasing sustainable farming practices. EWEB, the McKenzie River Trust and Cascade Pacific Conservation and Development jointly manage the property.

The property, known as the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area, will provide opportunities for conservation education and the development of low-impact land management approaches that encourage long-term solutions for protecting the excellent water quality of the McKenzie River for future generations.

In 2010, EWEB received a $45,500 grant from the Oregon Governor's Fund for the Environment to continue the Healthy Farms Clean Water program and partner with other local agencies and organizations to assist farmers in reducing their agricultural runoff while increasing the economic vitality of their farms. As part of this grant project, EWEB held an open house for farmers in the winter of 2010 where they could learn about free services available to them from project partners.

Cedar Waxing

Roosevelt Operations Center

In 2010, EWEB completed construction of its new $71 million Roosevelt Operations Center. The project is located on a 52-acre site in West Eugene and includes three new buildings: an engineering and operation building, a warehouse and a fleet services building. The project also includes a 260-space employee and visitor vehicle parking lot and a 13-acre secure storage yard for equipment and staging. The project, which is expected to receive LEED Gold certification, features a number of energy and water sustainability features.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency features include:

  • A 70-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system
  • A solar hot water system
  • Enhanced building insulation and passive solar design to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling
  • The extensive use of day lighting, high efficiency lighting fixtures and occupancy sensors to reduce energy consumption

As a result of these and other features energy use is projected to be at least 35% less than a similar project built to current minimum state standards.

Sustainable water features include:

Opportunities and Challenges

Each year, EWEB spends tens of millions of dollars on purchased goods and services yet does not systematically consider the sustainability impacts of these purchases or evaluate the social and environmental performance of our suppliers. Moreover, EWEB does not have the systems in place to analyze purchasing data and quantify the weight or volume of materials used, which in turn inhibits our ability to evaluate the efficiency of our resource consumption.

Over the next decade, EWEB anticipates embarking on several major infrastructure projects, including the Carmen Smith Improvement project associated with re-licensing the facility, electric and water meter upgrades and potentially a second water source and associated treatment and distribution capacity. These are major projects and present a significant opportunity to incorporate life-cycle thinking in design and construction. While green building practices have become accepted practice in commercial and residential construction, it is not as common in major utility infrastructure projects. These projects present EWEB the chance to lead and implement a wide range of best practices from environmentally and socially responsible purchasing, to fleet and transportation management, to waste minimization and recycling. Capitalizing on this opportunity will require a commitment of purpose and resources.

EWEB has taken important initial steps in acknowledging our contribution to climate change and articulated a greenhouse gas reduction target for our operational GHG emissions with an action plan to be developed in 2011. However, we still lack a strategy for reducing or offsetting the emissions associated with our power resource portfolio. This issue will be considered in the development of the 2011 IERP.

Protecting drinking water quality over the long term requires our community to develop strategies that address the risks associated with increased land-use development in sensitive riparian areas. While the effort in 2010 by the Lane County Board of Commissioners to address some of these issues was laudable, it was undermined by a lack of proactive public education and stakeholder engagement. EWEB remains committed to working with McKenzie River residents and Lane County to develop an approach that meets the community's needs.

In 2010, EWEB's Education Grant and Partners in Education programs provided nearly $680,000 for water and energy education activities at four area school districts, Lane Community College and community nonprofit organizations. The grants fund programs that promote environmental awareness and an ethic of efficiency around water and energy use. Recipients have used the grants to funds curriculum materials such as science kits, hands-on experiments, field trips and the hiring of classroom aides and science educators.

Since the Education Grant program began in 1995, EWEB has distributed more than $8.68 million to local schools and educators.

*Different greenhouse gasses have different levels of potency, for example methane has 21 times the heat trapping potential as carbon dioxide. Measurement in MTCO2e represents the global warming potential of different greenhouse gasses expressed in terms of the global warming potential of one unit of carbon dioxide. In other words one metric ton of methane is equivalent to 21 MTCO2e.