Low Carbon Diet

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Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global sea level.
- Dr. Rajenda Pachuri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 12/2009

To meet the Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan goals, each year 2011-2015, an additional 15% of Davis households will need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 10%. This percentage is based on the initial baseline emissions inventory for Davis showing that more that 75% of GHG emissions are generated by the daily activities of residents. Residential energy use accounts for 33% and personal transportation for 53% of GHG emissions. If Davis is to meet its goals, we need practical, cost effective ways to help 3,750 households per year lower their carbon footprint.

To help us focus on what individuals and households can do, the city and Cool Davis Initiative have chosen David Gershon’s program: Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds, which explains how to determine the carbon footprint of a household and gives 24 easy-to-follow recipes for reducing emissions. Each household chooses which recipes work best for them to implement. The book recommends sessions with representatives of 6-8 other households forming teams. Team meetings can be great fun: with lively discussions and useful exchanges of ideas.

The recipes cover:

  • Making quick fixes around the house - such as, installing low-flow shower heads, washing clothes with detergent formulated for cold water, setting the thermostat at 65-68, etc.
  • Changing habits and lifestyle- such as eating one more vegetarian meal a week, using a bike for errands more and the car less each week, taking five-minute showers, etc.
  • Making big-ticket upgrades - such as replacing old appliances with more energy-efficient ones, adding solar hot water or solar panels, landscaping with drought-tolerant plants, etc.

As Susan Steinbach wrote, "I just completed the Low Carbon Diet class offered by the city in a small neighborhood group. What a refreshing, creative way for Davisites to take a look at their energy usage and household habits in order to get a clearer sense of their personal connection to climate change.

"One of the best parts of the class was the chance to brainstorm and problem-solve the categories in the book with like-minded neighbors. In our group of eight households, we discussed low-flow toilets, drying racks, compact fluorescent light-bulbs, rainwater cachement basins, solatubes, insulation around doors and windows, maintaining correct tire pressure on automobiles to improve MPG, setting the water heater temperature to 'off' or 'pilot' when traveling away from home, using carbon footprint calculators online, purchasing air travel carbon offsets, and many other practical topics. I was surprised at how much I learned in this class - even after living in Davis for many years and absorbing the local lore about living lighter on the land."

Whether you join a Low Carbon Diet team, read David Gershon’s Low Carbon Diet book on your own, or simply measure your carbon footprint at http://www.coolcalifornia.org and take action yourself, our combined efforts can move Davis toward the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

See links to explore topics on energy conservation such as heating and cooling, energy efficient appliances, eating lower on the food chain, and more.

When we all do our part, we can work wonders.


Cool Davis Tip:

The City of Davis has approximately 200 LED traffic signals in use. LEDs use 80% less energy and last six times as long as conventional bulbs