There’s an informative Web site offered by the University of California at Berkeley that offers, among other things, a map of the United States showing how many greenhouse gases the average household puts out in every zipcode. Here’s our area:
You’ll notice that South Burlington and especially Burlington are greener (literally and figuratively) than we are in terms of carbon footprint, but that’s a little misleading: it turns out that cities tends to have lower carbon footprints, but they result in widespread suburbs with larger carbon footprints. Burlington depends on its suburbs, so unfortunately it’s a linked effect.
The good news here is that those of us in the suburbs have an enormous opportunity to reduce carbon footprint, and that anything we learn to do can spread to other suburbs around the world, where we see this same pattern.
It’s hard to make out from the picture above, but look at the blue and purple columns in the graph. Those represent transportation (blue) and heating (purple). Reducing car trips, reducing use of airplanes, carpooling, using mass transit, and electric cars all can combine to drive that blue bar way down. For the purple bar, we have similarly big possibilities, including insulation, weatherization, and air source heat pumps (or if you don’t have a home suitable for one of those, the next best thing would be wood or wood pellets).
As a matter of pride, let’s not be just an average suburban town: there’s a lot more to Williston than that. Let’s show people how a small town like ours on the fringe of a small city can make a big difference.