How Can Governments and Companies Help the Disadvantaged Reduce Their Carbon Footprint
Based on the Pew Research Center the middle class is defined from $42,000 to $126,000. The ideas presented below are focused on households making less than $42,000 which need the most help to become more energy efficient. These ideas can benefit most incomes but the key difference is the need for governments to provide subsidizes for the lower income.
Wasted food is responsible for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, food waste is responsible for about 3.3 gigatons of greenhouse gas annually, which would be, if regarded as a country, the third-largest emitter of carbon after the U.S. and China.
· Support local farmers and local food markets with government grants and tax breaks. Buying local reduces carbon with less transportation required.
· Provide “ugly food” that is very healthy and tasty. 35-40% of food goes to waste with much of it classified as ugly food. Companies should provide low income and homeless at 50% of cost or no cost. Many countries have been successfully doing this for years.
· Subsidize farms in lower income areas by including solar roofs to generate local electricity. Germany has done this for several years.
Tax incentives for companies that contribute food to Apps like: “Too Good To Go” and “Food Rescue Hero” to reduce food waste and provide free food to the poor.
· Plant-based options must be available, visible, and enticing in all public buildings including schools and hospitals.
PRIVATE COMPANIES AND DEVELOPERS CAN SUPPORT THE POORER POPULATION by encouraging Agri-hoods in single-family, multifamily, and mixed-use communities built with a working farm as the focus. Enlist well-known chefs to inspire less wasteful kitchen and eating habits. Build Food-centric residential developments built around community gardens and local markets. Support next generation urban markets: food halls that are employing innovative food sourcing concepts to encourage food entrepreneurship. Support food hubs and culinary incubators. Include regional processing and distribution centers that give food-based entrepreneurs access to commercial kitchen space, connect them to retail and institutional customers, or both. Have media share information to help communication and education to the public.
A few Resources that are available to help:
Reducing Food Waste/ EPA.gov
MAKE GREEN ENERGY AFFORDABLE TO PURCHASE FOR ALL
Promote the development and purchase of battery energy storage to enable wind and solar to become a more viable solution.
Encourage GOVERNMENTS AND PRIVATE DEVELOPERS to create solar Power Purchase Agreements, or PPA, which frees residents of the burden of ownership and maintenance while offering immediate savings, no upfront cost and reduction of your carbon footprint.
Provide community solar farms that serve low income households that are subsidized by the government at federal, state and local levels. This will specifically tie into reduced monthly energy bills for the poor. Citizens can financially support a solar farm which can be located on large flat warehouse roofs, under power lines where the land is not being used, or simply in a large open field. Community Solar is a very smart solution especially if you cannot place panels on your home’s roof, cannot afford the initial cost to install, or not sure you will be living at your house, there’s little sense in installing a rooftop array. The Community Solar Concept is suitable for low income renters and homeowners. You are supporting local, clean energy and can sign up for short-term (including 1-year) contracts with many offering no cost to cancel. For community solar, utilities use a process called “virtual net metering,” which means the community solar farm produces energy, then you get the credit on your utility bill–just as if you had produced it on your own roof.
Electricity from solar panels should be valued the same cost as the local electric utility. Governments can create contracts with the local utility over 15- 20 years with same cost to provide financial resilience and support the transition from fossil fuels to green technology.
A few resources below:
Solstice’s complete guide to community solar Vote Solar nicely summarizes the community solar market’s potential here. This white paper on why developers should be considering community solar Some of the bigger name community solar developers to consider ForeFront Power, NextEra Energy, 38 Degrees North, and Revision Energy, to name a few.
UPGRADE EXISTING BUILDINGS
Key solutions that governments should subsidize at least 50% to assist the low income:
· Super insulate roofs, and walls if viable. Spray insulation can make the house air tight by sealing up cracks and holes. Much of the heat leaves the house through the roof which is why the roof is the most critical to address. Also the roof is easier to access and the work can usually be done with little or no interruption to the resident.
· Make sure all lighting is LED. Provide free LED light bulbs.
· Add a home dehumidifier which can cool down a house up to ten degrees, as well as address the humidity which is becoming more of a health problem with climate change.
· Install Heat Pumps when an old HVAC system needs to be replaced. The first costs of high efficiency heat pumps are estimated at $9,911 per installation unit, compared to a weighted cost of $7,915 per unit for conventional HVAC systems. Usually the payback is within two years. “For a single winter season, heating costs run an average of $1,550 for a propane furnace, $850 for a natural gas furnace, $900 for an electric furnace, and just $500 for a heat pump. The costs to cool your home will run about the same. The cost to install a heat pump is approximately $500 less than installing a gas furnace.” (Source Bob Villa)
All public buildings should be required to implement the energy saving ideas listed in this article.