Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Electric Department (BED), joined by partners from CarShare Vermont, Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), and Vermont Low Income Trust for Electricity (VLITE), announced today the annual update to the City’s Net Zero Energy (NZE) Roadmap from newly installed electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot of the Old North End (ONE) Community Center.
The new 2022 data provided by Synapse Energy Economics showed that Burlington continues to be ahead of Roadmap pace in the ground transportation sector; natural gas consumption, particularly in the commercial sector, has rebounded moderately since hitting pandemic-era lows; and Burlington emissions remain lower overall by 11.2 percent compared to the 2018 baseline.
“What our third annual Net Zero report shows is that local action matters on energy and climate policy, and that we have more work to do to decarbonize Burlington – and when we do, we will realize a cleaner, more affordable, and more vibrant future,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Parallel to our efforts to make ‘electrifying everything’ as easy and affordable as possible – Burlington has also sought out new regulatory authorities and passed new ordinances aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels for building heat – the greatest driver of Burlington’s carbon emissions. It is through fiscally responsible, well-structured and innovative tactics like these that Burlington has become a national leader in climate action.”
“The 2022 Roadmap update shows both continued progress and a need for more work to be done through policy and customer incentives to further reduce fossil fuel use in Burlington,” stated Darren Springer, General Manager, Burlington Electric Department. “We have made great strides in the ground transportation sector and seen firsthand how BED’s electric vehicle rebates combined with fewer vehicle miles traveled are making a difference. While the buildings sector remains a challenge, we have strong solutions on the horizon, including local policies that are just beginning to have an impact, like rental weatherization and new construction renewable heating. Additionally, there are new steps such as implementing the carbon pricing approved on Town Meeting Day, as well as advancing district energy, which would provide the single biggest step we can take toward Net Zero Energy. We also continue to partner with organizations such as CarShare Vermont to expand access to electric vehicles, and with VLITE and Champlain Housing Trust to make charging more accessible, including at the ONE Community Center.”
Ground Transportation Emissions Ahead of Ambitious Roadmap Pace
For the third year in a row, Burlington continues to be ahead of the NZE Roadmap pace in the ground transportation sector, with fuel consumption 10.6 percent lower than the NZE 2030 benchmark. The City’s progress comes from a reduction in the number of vehicles registered in Burlington and the number of vehicle miles traveled, as well as increases in electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) adoption, supported by BED’s incentives and EV charging station investments.
Gasoline and Diesel Consumption
Post-pandemic Rebound in Commercial Sector Emissions
Burlington experienced a rebound in natural gas emissions in 2022, particularly in the commercial sector (see graphs below). Factors causing the increase may include weather variability, additional natural gas usage for building ventilation coming out of the pandemic, and new construction permitted prior to the renewable heating ordinance coming online.
Overall Burlington Emissions Down
Burlington greenhouse gas emissions in the ground transportation and building sectors tracked were down 11.2 percent in 2022 compared to 2018 (from 215 to 191 thousand metric tons), despite having experienced a mild 3.2 percent increase in 2022 compared to pandemic-impacted 2020 (see graph below). The City is performing better compared with national emissions metrics, where emissions increased by 1.3 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, following a 6.5 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. To help make progress toward those goals, in January, BED announced new and expanded electrification incentives for 2023 that, coupled with State of Vermont and Federal Inflation Reduction Act funds, provide significant financial assistance to Burlingtonians when purchasing cold-climate heat pumps, electric vehicles and charging stations, electric lawn care equipment, heat and energy recovery ventilators, and programmable controllers.
Next Steps to Reduce Emissions
The City plans to make significant gains in reducing commercial sector emissions by using local building policies like rental weatherization, new construction renewable heating, a carbon pollution impact fee, and the state’s new Clean Heat Standard. Additionally, a district energy system in Burlington would reduce commercial sector buildings’ fossil fuel use by 16 percent. Further, benefits from the upcoming Inflation Reduction Act incentives will provide more help toward reducing emissions through a boost to electric vehicle and heat pump adoption.
Driving Electric along the Road to Net Zero Energy
A recent partnership among CarShare Vermont, CHT, VLITE, and BED is now making driving electric a reality for more members of the Old North End community, without the burden of car ownership. Thanks to funding from VLITE and incentives from BED to purchase both an electric vehicle and a charging station, CarShare Vermont has added a fifth all-electric vehicle to its 25-vehicle fleet. The 2023 all-electric Chevy Bolt named Fabio, has a dedicated spot at the ONE Community Center parking lot, thanks to CHT having provided the space. CHT, BED, and VLITE also partnered to provide an electric vehicle charging station at the same location that will be available to the public during non-business hours (5pm to 7 am). The charging fee is 25 cents per kilowatt hour.
“CarShare Vermont is excited to collaborate with CHT, BED, and VLITE to bring electric carsharing to the ONE Community Center,” stated Annie Bourdon, Executive Director, CarShare Vermont. “Most of our 1,000+ members do not own vehicles by necessity or choice. By making electric vehicles available in our shared fleet, we can ensure they have access to the most efficient vehicles when they need to drive. In its first month in service, Fabio was taken on 75 unique trips and used an average of seven hours per day – it is meeting the mobility needs of dozens of neighbors who may otherwise struggle to get around.”
“The Champlain Housing Trust team is delighted to have partnered with CarShare Vermont, BED, and VLITE to enable us to serve the diverse Old North End community even better,” stated Michael Monte, Chief Executive Office, Champlain Housing Trust. “This partnership is in line with our mission to develop and provide not only permanently affordable homes, but also community assets that help Burlingtonians succeed in their daily lives. The opportunity for low and moderate income Burlingtonians to drive electric through CarShare Vermont, without purchasing a vehicle or to feel comfortable purchasing an electric vehicle knowing that nearby charging is available, provides an beneficial impact to our community.”
“VLITE is excited to be part of bringing this EV charger to the Old North End and supporting the work of CarShare Vermont in making electric vehicles more accessible to Burlingtonians of all income levels,” stated Gabrielle Malina, Executive Director, VLITE.