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Eugene Mayor Piercy Maintains Livability with Energy Efficiency, Environmental Improvements

By Eugene (OR) Mayor Kitty Piercy
March 19, 2007

Eugene (OR) has a strong environmental ethic and has been actively pursuing energy efficiency and environmental improvement for many years. Dozens of individual programs and projects continue to reduce cost and emissions, and maintain the livability of Eugene. Some of these efforts are noted elsewhere in this survey. Other notable examples include:

  • all red and green traffic lights, pedestrian signals, and a new taxiway at the airport, were converted to LED lighting;

  • an Energy Management program has been in place since 1994;

  • policies are in places that specify standard office temperatures and that all light and computers are off at night;

  • a green buildings policy was adapted in 2006 that addresses new construction, remodels and ongoing operations;

  • a weather controlled irrigation system has been installed in 74 parks;

  • the city maintains 30 miles of dedicated bike paths, 89 miles of on'street bike lanes and 5 bicycle/pedestrian bridges, with further additions to the bike/pedestrian system planned;

  • all city staff have bus passes and are encouraged to car-pool or use other alternative transportation;

  • wastewater treatment plant produces 50 percent of its own power from methane, consuming 90 percent of the methane generated at the plant;

  • Eugene has been designated “Tree City USA” every year since 1982. Over 7,000 street trees have been planted since 1992; and

  • 3,000 acres of wetlands have been protected; 900 acres have been restored.

Eugene has recently joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). We are using their assistance and protocols to quantify greenhouse gas emissions at the community and government operations levels, quantify the impacts of our many existing efforts to reduce our climate impact, and provide a basis for developing a community-wide strategy for further greenhouse gas emissions.

Benefits and Costs

The impacts of these longstanding programs have changed the way the city does business at many levels of the organization. Efforts that focus on conserving measurable resources, such as energy, water, paper or vehicle fuel, have successfully reduced the budget impact on the organization from cost increases. The energy program, for example, reduces utility budget requirements by over $300,000 per year. For other programs, the results are more difficult to quantify. The Eugene Bike Path System, Urban Forest and Wetland programs contribute to the livability of Eugene, and have earned them national recognition. The work they are doing with ICLEI will quantify the GHG impacts of these efforts, if not the overall impact on the community.

Because these efforts are embedded in the way they do business in Eugene, the programs are funded from the individual department budgets.

Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems

Eugene has installed four solar domestic hot water systems on city-owned facilities. Two of these are seasonal systems to preheat water for our swimming pools. These were installed as a part of a comprehensive efficiency retrofit. Two other systems are year-round glazed systems for domestic hot water at fire stations. The fire stations systems were part of a package of efficiency measures included in the initial construction of the stations.

Benefits and Costs

Combined annual cost savings for all four systems are estimate at $11,000 per year. This figure will tend to increase over time, as the cost of the avoided energy use continues to increase. Energy savings is estimated at 11,500 therms per year, or the equivalent of approximately 143,000 lbs of CO2.

First cost for these systems were not calculated separately, but were included as a part of larger efficiency packages. This enabled Eugene to average the costs and savings, thus achieve the highest efficiency possible within our overall cost-effectiveness guidelines. The earlier pool projects benefited from an internal loan, while the latter projects received significant state and local incentives through direct rebates and the ability to sell tax credits to private investors through the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit program.

For further information, contact Lynne Eichner-Kelly, Sustainable Operations Analyst, Department: Central Services at 541-682-5083 or send e-mail to: