CLIMATE MITIGATION:
LEAD BY EXAMPLE

To demonstrate leadership in greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, many states have adopted “lead-by-example” policies within the executive branch of government. The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has undertaken an effort to design a suite of internal policies that will minimize its operational GHG emissions. Building off its work developing the department’s new climate policy, NDOT developed a framework process that other state entities may use and adapt in order to develop their own GHG mitigation strategies. The details below provide a roadmap for how Nevada’s state agencies can lead by example.

THE NDOT GHG EMISSIONS-REDUCTION FRAMEWORK

NDOT developed and implemented a policy and strategic plan to reduce GHG emissions within its operations. The following sections describe the steps taken to develop NDOT’s policy and strategic plan to reduce GHG emissions within its operations.

Adopting ‘GHG Emissions Reduction from the Transportation Sector’ as one of NDOT’s annual performance measures

In support of the statewide climate goals, NDOT proposed GHG emissions reduction as a new performance measure for NDOT’s annual Performance Management Report. Although specific targets are not identified, NDOT is committed to reducing GHG emissions to the maximum extent both within the department as well as from the transportation system as a whole. The Nevada Transportation Board of Directors adopted this measure on April 13, 2020.

These actions prompted NDOT to develop and implement strategies to reduce GHG emissions within operations and to track statewide transportation GHG emissions reductions on an annual basis.

Opportunity to participate in a GHG emissions-reduction workshop

In May 2020, the NDOT senior leadership team and agency partners were invited to participate in a virtual workshop on the draft GHG reduction guidebook being developed for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). NDOT was one of four state DOTs (i.e., Nevada, Colorado, Delaware, and Hawaii) invited to participate in NCHRP Project 25-56, Methods for State DOTs to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Transportation Sector. The workshop was led by the NCHRP project consultant team and had two objectives: 1) to assist NDOT in applying the guidebook and working towards state GHG emissions-reduction goals, and 2) for the project team to obtain feedback on the draft guidebook before it is finalized. Some 60 participants representing 14 different Nevada entities participated in four two-hour workshop sessions over three days (May 4, 6, and 14). NDOOT implanted various strategies and resources identified in the NCHRP guidebook, including the next steps outlined here.

NDOT developed a framework process that other state entities may use and adapt in order to develop their own GHG mitigation strategies. The details below provide a roadmap for how Nevada’s state agencies can lead by example.

Coordinating Committee

Building on the momentum from the May 2020 NCHRP workshop, a coordinating committee was formed by the NDOT executive leadership team to coordinate activities and facilitate the development of NDOT’s GHG reduction policy and strategies. The six-member coordinating committee included representatives from NDOT’s Environmental Division, Planning Division, and executive leadership team. The committee worked together to:

  • Form an internal GHG Reduction Strategy Workgroup comprising leaders from programs and divisions primarily responsible for implementing GHG emissions-reduction goals,
  • Identify steps in developing policy and strategies to reduce GHG emissions within NDOT operations, and
  • Develop a timeline to complete NDOT policy and strategy development by mid-October 2020 (Table 1).

By June 2020, the coordinating committee developed a list of participants for the GHG Reduction Strategy Working Group.

Table 1. Timeline for Implementation of Policy and Strategy Development

Table 1. Timeline for Implementation of Policy and Strategy Development
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GHG Reduction Strategy Working Group

The NDOT GHG Reduction Strategy Working Group comprised 25 members representing executive leaders, senior managers, and/or their representatives from:

  • NDOT’s executive leadership team (4)
  • Planning: Multi-Modal, Performance Analysis, and Innovation Divisions (3)
  • Project Delivery: Environmental, Project Management, Roadway Design, and Construction Divisions (7)
  • Administration: Administrative Services, Equipment Management (2)
  • Operations: Materials, Maintenance and Asset Management, and Traffic Operations Divisions (4)
  • District Engineers and representative from all three Districts (4)
  • Communications Division (1)

Beginning June 30, 2020, the working group met bi-weekly. The team was tasked with:

  1. Reviewing recommendations from the NCHRP 25-56 Guidebook Draft 4.1 (April 2020) and conduct initial survey for NDOT functional units;
  2. Conducting NDOT’s baseline GHG emissions inventory;
  3. Developing NDOT’s GHG emissions-reduction policy;
  4. Compiling a prioritized list of opportunities to reduce GHG emissions within NDOT operations; and
  5. Developing a draft GHG emissions-reduction strategic plan by mid-October.

Carbon Benefits of Working from Home

Between March 18 and October 16, 2020, NDOT estimates a savings of 1,715 metric tons CO2(eq) in emissions as employees worked from home rather than commuting to their offices. This is approximately the total annual emissions of 230 U.S. households.

Consideration of work-from-home options, where appropriate and effective, has the potential to reduce GHG emissions and save departments expenses associated with energy, depending on the facilities and relative staffing levels.

Their estimate is based on the following assumptions:

  • Number of NDOT staff on roster in FY 2020: 1,667 (HR data from August 2020)
  • Estimated percentage of staff working from home since March 18, 2020: 50%
  • Average daily commute miles for Nevada: 40.9 miles (car insurance data from 2016 Answer Financial Insurance Answer Center)
  • Number of work days from March 18 – October 18, 2020: 149 days (accounting for 3 holidays)
  • Additional avoided emissions were likely realized given decreased power demands at NDOT facilities with little or no occupancy.

Outcome

The following are products generated from the collaborative efforts of the working group:

  1. Initial GHG benchmarking for NDOT functional units: completed by August 27, 2020.
  2. NDOT’s baseline GHG emissions inventory: completed by August 27, 2020.
  3. NDOT’s GHG emissions-reduction policy: completed by September 22, 2020.
  4. NDOT near-term GHG emissions-reduction strategy table: compiled by September 24, 2020.
  5. The draft GHG emissions-reduction strategic plan: completed by October 8, 2020.
    Note: The NDOT executive leadership team is currently reviewing the plan.

The draft GHG emissions-reduction strategic plan identifies activities where NDOT can implement GHG emissions-reducing measures and has direct control through its administration of programs or specific projects in three key areas: operations, construction, and planning. Table 2 lists select examples how NDOT will implement GHG emissions reductions within its operations. The full list of NDOT emissions-reduction measures can be found in the NDOT GHG emissions-reduction strategic plan.

Monitoring NDOT’s GHG emissions reductions will require annual reporting to capture the previous fiscal year’s activity unless otherwise specified. Beginning in 2023, and every three years thereafter, NDOT will determine which measures, if any, must be modified to reach the agency’s GHG emissions-reduction goals.

Table 2. Examples of NDOT Operations GHG emissions-reduction measures. 

Reduction MeasureResponsible NDOT Unit(s)Associated Tasks
Procure more energy-efficient movable appliances and electronics.Buildings & GroundsPurchase appliances with an Energy Star rating of 75 or higher (top performer).
Procure more energy-efficient building HVAC, water heating, and lighting.Buildings & ArchitectureNDOT will purchase chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) updated compliant building cooling systems; purchase building heating systems, water heaters, and lighting to maximize energy cost savings.
Procure more energy-efficient or alternative fuel light-duty vehicle (AFV) fleets.EquipmentAFVs capable of using E85 fuel are currently being purchased and used in Clark County; older vehicles are replaced with new cleaner-burning, lower-emissions versions.
Implement policies to support telecommuting or compressed workweeks.Human ResourcesNDOT will support wider use of part-time telecommute options.
Install more energy-efficient roadway lighting.Traffic Operations, DistrictsNDOT uses updated specifications to install LED lighting fixtures on all projects and replaces legacy less-energy-efficient lighting fixtures within the limits of each project.
Reuse or recycle materials where feasibleSpecifications, Construction, DistrictsNDOT encourages recycling of metals and other materials in construction documents and as part of maintenance repair, replacement, and rehabilitation activities; NDOT will recycle other materials where feasible.
Plan maintenance activities to reduce unneeded delays or travel.MaintenanceNDOT will continue to plan maintenance work around peak hours and special events as feasible to reduce delay or out-of-direction travel.
Provide real-time travel information to reduce congestion.Traffic OperationsReal-time information to avoid congestion is available through the 511 Traveler Information System.
Alternative energy capture (e.g., solar, wind).Traffic Operations, DistrictsNDOT uses alternative renewable energy to power remote facilities where no electrical grid connection exists or when connecting to the power grid is too costly.
Consider the inclusion of non-single-occupant vehicle (SOV) vehicle trip projects (e.g., high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes).Design, PlanningNDOT has an HOV plan for the Las Vegas Valley; NDOT will evaluate HOV for any new travel lanes being considered on mainline freeways.
Make GHG impacts a scored variable in the alternatives analysis.EnvironmentalScopes of work for environmental impact statements and environmental assessments will include GHG impacts as a criterion to determine which alternative is selected as a preferred alternative.