Going Green: Carbon footprint
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A national effort mandated by the federal government requires that communities work to reduce their carbon footprint and wastewater runoff and because it's national, that's means New York State must comply.
Rick Smardon knows the ins and outs of Onondaga County. At least as far as energy is concerned. Smardon is a professor at SUNY-ESF, and he and some of his students were asked by Onondaga County to determine the county's carbon footprint.
In other words, to find out how much energy is being used or wasted so that environmental reductions can be made.
"So use different kinds of fuels for your vehicles, drive less. Use different kinds of ways of cooling and heating the buildings,” said Dr. Rick Smardon, Dept. Environmental Studies.
Onondaga County executive Joanie Mahoney recently implemented the 'Save the Rain' campaign in line with the mandate. The idea is to catch rainwater run-off.
If the runoff is detained, it will decrease the amount of flow that goes into the antiquated underground combined overflow, which has street runoff and raw sewage going directly into one location.
"Instead of building 'grey' infrastructure - concrete and steel - we're going to try and use 'green' infrastructure which uses natural devices to capture the overland flow of runoff after a rainstorm. So things like rain barrels and green roofs and drainage swales and created wetlands can slow down the urban runoff. You can reuse the rain water for your gardens or for other kinds of uses that are not sanitary kinds of issues,” said Smardon.
Another bonus for New York State; developing local storm water treatment can reduce water treatment plant costs.
"Anytime you build a facility like a treatment plant, you have to maintain it and that costs money over time. If we develop greener systems of detaining storm water, it may cost a lot less in the long run for operations and maintenance,” said Smardon.
The work Smardon and his students recorded was conducted last spring. But no real changes have been made. Not yet.
"They're having a professional consultant look at what we did, because we're just academics and a bunch of students and then figure out where they go from here before they input the data,” said Smardon.