Tech Environmental e-Newsletter
DEVELOPERS FACE NEW GREENHOUSE GAS RULES
Many states have begun developing and implementing regulations to control greenhouse gases (GHG). The state of Massachusetts recently made a significant environmental policy change that will likely be echoed elsewhere. The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) has long required the state's agencies to use "all practicable means and measures to minimize damage to the environment" during the development of large-scale construction projects. In an extraordinary step, Massachusetts recently broadened the definition of "damage" to include the effects of GHG emissions.
Developers must now address bothdirect and indirect GHG emissions from their proposed projects in Massachusetts.
As a result of the April decision, all development projects large enough to require state environmental review will now be required to address greenhouse gas impacts along with more traditional environmental impacts. Project proponents must identify, describe sources of, and propose measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate for project-related GHG emissions. This analysis will include both direct and indirect GHG emissions - meaning that it will not be restricted to stacks and fugitive emissions from the future operations of the project, but will also include emissions from vehicle trips and from generating plants supplying electricity to the operation. This policy shift will affect large residential and commercial construction projects in the state of Massachusetts, and represents a progressive precedent in the handling of greenhouse gas emissions.
However, although the policy shift was made effective as of its announcement, a protocol that will allow developers to measure future GHG emissions and take steps to reduce them is still being developed. An advisory committee composed of air quality consultants, environmental engineers, and state environmental officials - including Tech Environmental's Peter Guldberg - has been working to produce this protocol, which is expected to be available for public notice by July 1st, 2007.
An April 22nd Boston Globe article about the policy change highlighted some of its potential benefits and drawbacks. The article stated that the "initial reception from the development community was positive, with some leaders saying [the policy] coincides with growing interest in 'green' design and construction and does not appear to be too onerous." With high energy costs already driving many developers towards energy-efficient designs, this policy can be implemented in a manner that will not be economically restrictive. If project proponents are given clear, predictable guidelines for handling GHG emissions, they will be able to react effectively, enhancing the larger push in Massachusetts towards green building without slowing successful development.
The new policy could prove troubling to developers of power plants, who may be challenged to demonstrate that the energy generation they propose to supply could not be replicated by another method, like wind or solar power. As the Globe article noted, "In the past, the proponent of a [coal] plant had to demonstrate why it should be built at a certain spot. Now, the applicant may also need to show why the plant would need to burn coal."
Tech Environmental has already begun working with a number of its clients to consider lower energy-intensity alternatives in building design, lighting and mechanical equipment, as well as a variety of transportation options. Tech Environmental is also working with developers to define builds with mitigation conditions and quantify the percent reduction in GHG emissions associated with those packages. Tech Environmental experts will continue to participate in discussions on GHG emissions and mitigation strategies.
For more information, contact Peter Guldberg at PGuldberg@techenv.com or by phone at 781-890-2220, ext. 106.
SUBSCRIBE TO THIS NEWSLETTER
If you have been forwarded this email and wish to receive it regularly, click here to subscribe.
The founder of Tech Environmental, Peter H. Guldberg, CCM, has over 33 years of experience as an air quality and noise consultant dealing with impacts from energy, transportation, and industrial sources. Most recently, Mr. Guldberg was tapped to join Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's technical advisory committee for greenhouse gas policies [see main article].
When air quality concerns were first being addressed over thirty years ago, Mr. Guldberg established himself as an expert in the field of air pollution dispersion modeling. He formed Tech Environmental in 1984, in part to help train individuals on the intricacies of air pollution dispersion. As a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM), he has taught air pollution permitting and assessment to over 1,400 regulators, consultants, and clients. He has also been involved in hundreds of public hearings and legal proceedings regarding air quality, odor, noise, and dust concerns.
Mr. Guldberg has a B.S. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Michigan. Peter can be contacted at PGuldberg@techenv.com or at ext. 106.
LANDFILLS AND CARBON SEQUESTRATION
The Kyoto Protocol, which serves as the guiding document for much of developing greenhouse gas regulation, discusses the use of reservoirs in which carbonaceous (carbon-containing) material is "sequestered" as a form of carbon offset.
A 2001 study from the University of Nebraska suggests that sequestering carbonaceous waste in landfills has the potential to offset a large part of today's carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, and because landfill gas (LFG) contains a significant amount of carbon dioxide, many landfills are exploring the possibility of offsetting their carbon emissions by creating underground "carbon sinks."
Tech Environmental assists its solid waste clients in strategic planning to inventory and project the impact from their GHG emissions - including both direct emissions of LFG and indirect emissions from vehicle exhaust and energy supply. Since the use of carbon sequestration for the offset of LFG carbon emissions is still being hotly debated, TE is advising its clients with regard to sequestration issues and other methods to offset GHG emissions from landfills and solid waste facilities.
1601 Trapelo Road
Waltham, Massachusetts 02451
We are located at Reservoir Place
on Trapelo Road
off Exit 28, Rt. 128/I-95
in Waltham, Massachusetts.