Measuring Philadelphia’s Carbon Footprint

inventory screenshotIncreasingly people and organizations, from individual residents to multinational corporations, are becoming interested in how much they contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions changing our climate. The City of Philadelphia is no different. As outlined in our Greenworks Progress Report released last month, the City has been tracking emissions both from its own operations and assets as well as the carbon footprint for Philadelphia as a whole for several years.

This week, we’re diving more deeply into this data with two new reports available at

  • Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory: The City of Philadelphia is the single-largest property owner — and emitter of greenhouse gases — in the city. This report assesses the carbon footprint for those assets owned and operated by the municipal government in 2013*.
  • Citywide Greenhouse Gas Inventory: To plan programs and policies designed to reduce Philadelphia’s overall impact on global climate change, a reliable baseline of citywide carbon emissions is essential. This report covers the most recent complete dataset available, 2012*, and outlines greenhouse gas emissions by sectors including buildings, transportation, and process emissions from industrial sources.

Appendices to both reports with additional data are available on our resources page.

Among the key takeaways from these documents:

  • Buildings continue to be the primary source of carbon emissions in Philadelphia. While smokestacks and traffic jams are more visible reminders of our society’s reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuels, more than 60 percent of Philadelphia’s citywide emissions result from building energy usage in our homes and businesses.
  • A cleaner grid is reducing our emissions profile. The carbon intensity of electricity produced by PJM (the regional power grid that serves Philadelphia) decreased between 2005 and 2010 (the most recent data available) thanks to declining coal usage and an uptick in natural gas and renewable energy sources.
  • Tracking emissions is a key part of planning Philadelphia’s climate future. The City is committed to continuing to update its greenhouse gas inventories on a regular basis, both to educate the public and to inform policy discussions that will influence the future of Philadelphia’s carbon footprint.

*Both the municipal and citywide inventories rely on data sources that are updated infrequently and with a significant time delay; this is why 2012 and 2013 inventories are only now being published.


One thought on “Measuring Philadelphia’s Carbon Footprint

  1. On the Citywide GHG Emissions Inventory, Figure 5 lists Carbon Emissions by Fuel Type. This is an excellent chart, and I’d like to share with people. Suggest you include wind & solar, which have zero emissions. This chart makes it look like Natural Gas is our best option, which it isn’t.

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