Kaitlin Mellinder

What is a Greenhouse Gas Inventory?

Kaitlin Mellinder, Environmental Analyst, 509.220.3764

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 3:52 p.m.

What is a Greenhouse Gas Inventory?

The Greenhouse Gas Inventory is a report on the combined carbon emissions of the community and City of Spokane operations. Community emissions come from our daily activities like transportation and heating our homes, while governmental emissions result from services the City provides for our households like sewer treatment and garbage collection and disposal.

A Greenhouse Gas Inventory starts with collecting data on energy use throughout the community, calculating and modeling the carbon emissions, and then comparing the results to previous years to track progress toward our reduction goals.

Emissions data for the community comes from several federal and regional reports. For example, Avista Utilities provides data for electricity and natural gas consumption. Transportation information comes from the Spokane Regional Transportation Council mathematical models used to calculate both direct and indirect emissions using robust assumptions.

City of Spokane operations data is collected directly from energy and fuel bills as well as direct measurements like solid waste emissions monitoring data. By knowing the amount of electricity and natural gas each facility uses, we are able to determine the amount and types of emissions produced.

Under City of Spokane’s Municipal Code addressing Environmental Stewardship, it is the City’s responsibility to report on these emissions every three years to comply with City ordinance C36035, which lays out these goals for reducing emissions:

  • 45% below 2016 levels by 2030
  • 70% below 2016 levels by 2040
  • Net zero emissions by the year 2050

Greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere, trapping our sun’s heat, and causing the Earth to warm at an increasingly faster rate. Over time, the build-up of these gases has altered our planet’s natural systems and changed our understanding of climate.

City of Spokane has been publishing greenhouse gas inventory reports since 2009, and in 2021 City Council passed an ordinance, requiring emissions data reporting on an established schedule. The inventories are presented to the Mayor and City Council to help inform and guide actions in reducing emissions through operational adjustments and policy. This foundational information provides insight into how to best address this new future and protect our environment and quality of life for years and generations to come.

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