In my initial post, I said that Round Rock first needs to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory to determine what our carbon footprint is. Then we need to establish goals and timelines to reduce this footprint. We need to do both of these things on two tracks: city operations and the wider community. In my previous post, I focused on the first track, city operations. In this post I will talk about the second track, the wider Round Rock community.
Nearly half of Round Rock’s workforce–tens of thousands of our neighbors–make the daily trek to Austin for work or school. This includes yours truly. For 14 years, my preferred mode of commuting has been the Capital Metro express bus. Until recently, I had to drive to Pflugerville or Cedar Park to catch one. Thankfully, I can now hop on a bus less than a mile from my home. And I’m not the only one. Since CapMetro service came to Round Rock, the bus I ride has become very popular, and nearly filled to capacity.
It is clear to me in my conversations with folks around Round Rock, as well as in public forums such as the Round Rock 2030 events, that our neighbors believe we need more transportation options and capacity, whether for commuting to Austin or for getting across town. I intend to explore all transit options to solve our traffic headaches, reduce our carbon footprint, and improve our air quality.
Another way that Round Rock can help its business and residents participate in this effort is to upgrade its building codes to encourage greater efficiency.
The easiest and quickest way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to save money on energy is to construct more energy efficient buildings.
Round Rock is really good at attracting new businesses to build here. Increasingly, the city has chosen to incentivize them with tax rebate programs. The effectiveness of these efforts is debatable–it is not clear that businesses relocate because of tax incentives. But if we are going to persist with these programs, I think that we should include performance measures related to energy efficiency and use of renewable energy. Any new business that moves to Round Rock and benefits from a tax rebate should commit to being powered by 100% renewable energy, like Dell’s Round Rock campus has done since 2008.
Finally, the City of Round Rock can encourage participation in this effort by creating tools and programs to help businesses and residents calculate their own carbon footprint, take steps to reduce it, and be recognized and rewarded for doing so.
In my next and final post, I will address potential objections to this critical battle for our future, and why those objections are unpersuasive.