The Mouse that Roared

by | Nov 10, 2017 | News, Sustainability

On June 1st 2017, the news was that “383 US Climate Mayors commit to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals”. These mayors represent 68 million Americans. Here is but one example. The Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted resolutions “which state that County government will align its operational efforts to meet the United States’ commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that seeks to reduce global carbon emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by the year 2025.”1

Pima Area Governments Green Infrastructure Prioritization Tool Showing Tree Cover by City Block and Surface Temperatures

Why is this important in Pima? “These targets would in effect safeguard regional high temperatures near or below 120°F. Additionally, climate change is expected to affect local water demand, groundwater withdrawals and aquifer recharge, reducing groundwater availability in some areas. Long term drought is also expected to intensify in the Southwest. A drought emergency declaration has been in effect for Arizona since June 1999 and a Stage One drought declaration has been in effect for Pima County since 2007.”

Pima County Uses Autocase to Make the Case for its Commitment to the Paris Agreement

Over three years ago we wrote that ““The Tucson region is a bellwether… [and] teaching the world that infrastructure money must be spent to deal with low probability, large impact events such as flooding. Because of its many benefits, including reduced loss of life, nature’s green infrastructure, based on business case analysis, was determined to be the best solution. The implementation of green infrastructure elements can be an effective way to deal with problems of water quality, flooding, safety, urban heat islands, and preserving water as the precious (but undervalued) resource that it is.”2

Here’s what the resolution focuses on as priorities:

  1. Install 41 MW of Solar at County Facilities;
  2. Improve energy efficiency by 20% in 10 Highest Energy Use Buildings (improve water efficiency by 10% is not included in cost calculations);
  3. Fleet Efficiency and Replacement with Electric Vehicles; and,
  4. Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development Stormwater Management with Trees.

Regarding Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions related to 2. “Pima County-owned facilities account for more than 70% of County Government’s total GHG emissions.” “Improving efficiency in the 10 highest electricity-using buildings by 20% will save an estimated $7 million and 58 MT CO2e annually, with costs for improvements recovered within approximately six-eight years. Improving water efficiency by 10% in the 10 highest-using buildings is a drought adaptation measure aligned with the Paris Agreement.” This is why we built Autocase for Buildings – to make the case for green buildings.

Autocase for Sites (or, as it was then, AutoCASE) has already been used to calculate preliminary carbon savings from an increased tree canopy and Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development (GI/LID): “eastern urban Pima County has an average of 7% tree canopy and urban foresters recommend 20-25% cover for human habitat. A follow up analysis using AutoCASE™ (a tool Pima County, PAG and the City of Tucson invested in to calibrate for desert regions) could calculate the MT CO2 emissions per square foot or acre of County property with GI/LID+Tree improvements.”

Autocase was also used to calculate some of the additional benefits: “Green infrastructure near roads and sidewalks encourages active modes of transportation, and reduces vehicle emissions, which may be calculated by tools such as AutoCASE. Furthermore.” “AutoCASE™ can be used to calculate the cost and benefits of GI/LID+Tree projects as this example looking at the Silverbell Road expansion illustrates.”

Pima understands the benefits of Green Infrastructure (GI): “In general, for every $1 invested in GI, $4-6 dollars in direct and indirect economic benefits can be realized.”

Pima is not just investing in carbon reductions because it is good for the planet, they realize the local benefits too. A cooler city, with cleaner water, less flooding and a more sustainable future. And, “embracing this commitment not only secures our future but also creates enormous economic development opportunities and trade benefits. Certain investors and CEOs of the world’s largest multinational companies, for example, have collectively called climate action “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Furthermore, a 2016 survey on American attitudes toward climate change found that a majority of Americans in every state say the US should participate in the Paris 2 Agreement and that 75% of Pima County residents believe global warming is happening and 78% support policies to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.”

If you’d like to use Autocase for Sites or Autocase for Buildings to make the business case for your city, county, or region’s committment to fighting climate change please contact us.

1 Pima County Board of Supervisors Climate Change Resolution 2017-39 & Resolution 2017-51: Report & Recommendations to meet The Paris Agreement July 11, 2017,


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