Pierce County government continues to operate more efficiently and cost effectively. Over
three years, Pierce County employees have helped save more than $1.65
million by using fewer natural resources in our daily operations.
work of creating a more efficient government continues with all county
departments playing a crucial role in creating a sustainable Pierce
Pierce County 2012 Sustainability Index The Pierce County Sustainability Index
tracks twenty four sustainability indicators across Pierce County
Government. The 2012 Sustainability Index provides a clear picture of
how the County has reduced our use of energy, water, gasoline and other
Pierce County Executive
In 2013, we hope to continue to make progress towards our 2015
sustainability goals. Every county employee has a role to play in making
Pierce County a better place to work, live and play.
Pierce County enjoys excellent air quality most of the year, thanks to
our propensity for wind and rain. Pierce County is committed to
improving our wintertime air quality to improve human health and make it
easier for companies to locate in our industrial areas. Our air quality
problem happens from November to February during the wood heating
season. Wood smoke from houses accounts for more than half of our
wintertime air pollution.
Air Quality 2012
County had its third consecutive year of improved air quality in 2013.
The efforts of local governments and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
are raising awareness of the health and economic issues brought on by
our wood smoke problem.
Pierce County has partnered with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to provide wood smoke resources for the community.
The site www.AirSafePierceCounty.org
is a one-stop shop for information about Pierce County’s wood smoke
problem, including financial incentives, education and burn ban
Air Violations and Burn Bans
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency calls burn bans so that we do not exceed the federal government’s daily Particulate Matter 2.5 standard. Burn bans were crucial to limiting our extremely bad air quality days in 2012. Burning wood illegally during burn bans can result in a major fine.
PSCAA called five burn bans in Pierce County in 2012. We exceeded the daily PM2.5 standard (35 micrograms/cubic meter) at the Tacoma South L monitor four times.
Jan. 20, 2012
43.5 micrograms/cubic meter (ice storm/massive power outage – no burn ban called)
Jan. 13, 2012
40.9 micrograms/cubic meter (stage 1 burn ban in place)
Jan. 28, 2012
40.5 micrograms/cubic meter (stage 1 burn ban in place)
Nov. 10, 2012
40.4 micrograms/cubic meter (no burn ban in place)
Pierce County Has Reduced Energy Use by 13% Since 2009
Pierce County continues to decrease energy use in our buildings saving money and reducing the negative impacts of energy creation. In 2012 Pierce County spent $2,097,339.57 on electricity and natural gas at our owned buildings, which is significantly less than previous years. This is a result of retrofitting older facilities and Pierce County employee's using best energy practices.
Pierce County has also worked to do energy audits of our buildings to figure out where lighting and window projects will make the biggest difference. In 2012 Pierce County worked with local utilities to receive $39,204 in rebates for energy and lighting projects.
Sprinker is the Biggest Energy Loser
In 2012 the Sprinker Recreation
Center used 49.8% less energy than it did back in 2009. In 2012 the
Sprinker Recreation Center saved over $98,000 in energy, water and sewer
This energy reduction is a great example of how we can
retrofit our older buildings, saving money and making the facility much
more functional for Pierce County citizens.
New Energy Conservation Policy Introduced
Pierce County has adopted a
policy that establishes guidelines for county employees to reduce
energy costs and benefit the environment. This policy is critical to us
moving towards our goal of reducing energy use by 15% by 2015. The
Energy Conservation Policy helped guide employee best practices that
improve energy efficiency in our buildings.
Efficient Lighting: Making sure the lights in our buildings are turned off when we leave our offices.
Unplugging Personal Appliances: Limiting the use of personal appliances that are not critical to our work day.
Heating and Cooling: Making sure windows and large doors are not opened unnecessarily in our buildings.
Office Equipment: Making sure all electronic equipment is set to energy saver modes.
In 2012, the Office of
Sustainability made Sustainability Training available to all
departments. Overall the County improved to a B+ on the 2012
Sustainability Survey from a B- in 2011. 87% of Pierce County employees
now consider sustainability in their jobs just 3% shy of our 2015 goal
As employee understanding of sustainability improves, we have seen
improved employee actions that save money and improve the health of the
people in Pierce County. Pierce County employees can become
sustainability stewards living in the local community.
set a goal of having 50% of our purchased office products have recycled
content by 2015. In 2012 Pierce County only reached 26% recycled content
on our purchased office supplies. On Earth day 2013 Pierce County
announced that departments will now purchase a minimum of 30% recycled
paper and black remanufactured toner cartridges. This new county policy should push us to meet our recycled content goal as soon as 2014.
Pierce County has reduced our
printer paper use by 20.8% since 2009, meeting our 2015 Sustainability
goal. This reduction in paper use saved us $44,604 over what we were
spending on paper in 2009. Improved printing decisions, going electronic
and double-sided printing are the main drivers of this improvement.
Pierce County employees have increased recycling by 47.8% in our County buildings, since 2009. In 2012 we recycled 27.8 lbs per employee per month up from 18.8 lbs in 2009. We have met our 2015 goal of increasing recycling by 35%.
In 2012 Pierce County’s vehicles and ferry’s combined to burn 1,072,639
gallons of unleaded and diesel fuel, 31,761 fewer gallons than in 2011.
Our various fleets and ferry have reduced fuel use by 3.6% since 2009.
Since 2009, Pierce County has increased our hybrids from 15.3% to 25% of the non law enforcement fleet, a 63% increase. Pierce County employees took 525 electric vehicle trips in 2012. As we slowly move older cars out of the fleet, hybrids and electric vehicles will continue to be integrated into the fleet.
The car and light truck fleet
decreased to 16.9mpg from 17mpg in 2011. Since 2009 the fleet has
improved by 2.8mpg a 19.8% increase in fuel efficiency.
In 2012 Pierce County employees used their ORCA cards for 29,313 trips an increase of 25.8%
over 2011. Employees are now allowed to use the ORCA card for personal
use to improve air quality and reduce traffic in Pierce County.
Other Commute Trip Reduction Methods
Pierce County employees also tracked 26,003 other trips including
carpool, vanpool, walking and riding to work. Pierce County employees’
logged 59,316 CTR trips total in 2012 or 19.1 trips per employee.
Pierce County monitors water quality in local streams, and assigns a
letter grade based on specific parameters that indicate certain
problems. The average grade for Pierce County’s streams is a C+. Pierce
County also monitors public and private stormwater facilities to ensure
they are functioning properly and retrofits public facilities to reduce
the amount of polluted runoff entering local streams.
Pierce County implemented the Raise the Grade program. This program
targets four streams in the county with water quality problems for
improvements. These improvements may be achieved through retrofits of
existing stormwater facilities, public education, and restoration of
natural areas. The streams being targeted in the Raise the Grade area
are Spanaway Creek, Swan Creek, Minter Creek, and Horn Creek. Since
2008, significant noncompliance has been reduced by over 50% as a result
of this help. To learn more go to www.piercecountywa.org/raisethegrade.
Pierce County is
committed to reducing our water use by 10% by 2015. In 2012 Pierce
County government used more water than we had in 2010 and 2011, but we
still have reduced water use by 3.6% since 2009.
A few major
water leaks at Pierce County buildings are primarily responsible for
this increase. We are hopeful that in 2013 we will get closer to our
goal of a 10% reduction.
Sustainability is like a team sport. You need great leadership, clear
vision and the players to get the job done. The leadership of Pierce
County is committed to sustainability as a way to limit waste, save
money and improve the health of the environment for the citizens of
Pierce County. The large majority of Pierce County workers are on board
and doing their best to limit waste and try new ways of providing
critical public services. As the sustainability manager you don’t
actually get to turn off all the lights or maintain HVAC systems or
improve stream health, but you do get to measure and highlight the
success of others. The 2012 Sustainability Report is that annual
opportunity to reflect on the sustainable actions we have taken and
consider what we can do to improve in 2013. Please click here to read the County's 2015 Sustainability Goals.
The creation of the Office of Sustainability was largely possible
because of the Department of Energy’s EECBG grant that Pierce County
received back in 2009. While that grant has come to a successful finish
the impact of those funds will continue to bare fruit throughout Pierce
County for years to come.