Tracking Our Carbon Footprint

TCAT Completes Update to Greenhouse Gas Inventory

In 2018, Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County adopted strong, science-based regional, community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets: 

  • 45% reduction below 2015 levels by 2030, and 
  • 85% below 2015 levels by 2050. 

To meet these targets, it is essential that we have a way to track emissions over time.  This is important for three reasons:

  1. We need to know how much GHG emissions we need to eliminate.
  2. We need to know whether the actions we take to reduce our carbon footprint are effective.
  3. We need to know which sectors to target in our efforts to reduce emissions. (For example, how much progress can we make working on energy efficiency in buildings as compared to transportation?)

Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT) has estimated community-wide GHGs within Thurston County for the past nine years (2010-2018).  To do that, it has used a nationally recognized protocol for community-wide emissions.  The Thurston inventory is based on activity data from Puget Sound Energy, the Thurston Regional Planning Council, Thurston County Solid Waste, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance, and other state and federal agencies.  

TCAT’s GHG inventory work has been an important foundation for the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan effort, currently being completed by Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County with the help of the Thurston Regional Planning Council and Cascadia Consulting.

Key findings from TCAT’s estimates of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 include: 

  • The Thurston region’s 2018 carbon footprint was 3,070,839 metric tons reported as carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e). The built environment and transportation sectors were the two largest emission sectors and together contributed 92% of the Thurston region’s overall carbon footprint in 2018. 
  • The three largest emission sources in 2018 were residential buildings (32%), passenger vehicles (27%) and commercial buildings (22%)). Energy used In our buildings made up 59% of total emissions. So improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, along with cleaning up our energy grid and providing new sources of renewable energy (such as wind and solar) for local use will be key to meeting the targets adopted by local government.
  • Achieving the Thurston region’s climate goals will require annual emission reductions that are much larger than the annual reductions achieved between 2010 and 2018.  

To see the full report for 2018, visit TCAT’s website here.  The report for our first GHG inventory, for calendar year 2010, is also available on TCAT’s website.

For more information about the inventory, contact Tom Crawford at  or Dave Bradley at .

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