A demand-centered, hybrid life-cycle methodology for city-scale greenhouse gas inventories

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 10/2008; 42(17):6455-61. DOI: 10.1021/es702992q
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting for individual cities is confounded by spatial scale and boundary effects that impact the allocation of regional material and energy flows. This paper develops a demand-centered, hybrid life-cycle-based methodology for conducting city-scale GHG inventories that incorporates (1) spatial allocation of surface and airline travel across colocated cities in larger metropolitan regions, and, (2) life-cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the embodied energy of key urban materials--food, water, fuel, and concrete. The hybrid methodology enables cities to separately report the GHG impact associated with direct end-use of energy by cities (consistent with EPA and IPCC methods), as well as the impact of extra-boundary activities such as air travel and production of key urban materials (consistent with Scope 3 protocols recommended by the World Resources Institute). Application of this hybrid methodology to Denver, Colorado, yielded a more holistic GHG inventory that approaches a GHG footprint computation, with consistency of inclusions across spatial scale as well as convergence of city-scale per capita GHG emissions (approximately 25 mt CO2e/person/year) with state and national data. The method is shown to have significant policy impacts, and also demonstrates the utility of benchmarks in understanding energy use in various city sectors.

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