Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) With a new strategic climate team in place, the City of Missoula has adopted the first of several administrative rules expected over the coming year that look to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mayor Jordan Hess recently signed the first two administrative rules including a new sustainable building policy for municipal government and a vehicle emissions reduction plan.

Both were recommended by the members of the Climate Strategic Implementation Team.

According to the city's 2019 greenhouse gas inventory, buildings represented just under 70% of Missoula's greenhouse gas emissions. While the sustainable building policy doesn't yet apply to the private sector, it does apply to city facilities moving forward.

This has been something we've wanted to do,” said Leigh Ratterman, the city's climate and sustainability specialist. “We feel this policy can be a model for our community and how we can get to a point where we're significantly reducing our community greenhouse gas emissions.”

The building policy addresses a number of areas including the use of renewable energy, electrification over natural gas, air quality, stormwater management, and resilient landscaping, among other things.

Ratterman said some elements within the rule are required while others are strongly recommended. If not followed, a department must justify the reasons why. And as Missoula looks to consolidate departments at various locations, the timing of the sustainable building policy is significant.

We're very committed with the federal building to achieve these standards,” Ratterman said. “With future acquisition and future building, this is the standard, and we'll have to find ways to achieve them.”

The climate team recommended and Hess also signed a new vehicle emission reduction policy. The 2019 greenhouse gas inventory found that 12% of the city's greenhouse gasses came from its vehicle fleet.

The new rule addresses areas like purchasing, electrification, oversight and management of city vehicles.

We're looking to departments to optimize their fleet size. Through that, if they want to add additional fleet, they have to fill out a justification form. We don't all need to drive pick up trucks,” Ratterman said. “We also want to make sure we're maintaining vehicles to keep them going for as long as we can. We'll also be focused on economic driving.”

Ratterman said the vehicle policy does allow for some flexibility given the special needs of police and fire vehicles, and some of the city's heavy work vehicles. But in time and as technology changes, they too could be included in the rule.

As technology changes and things are adopted in other cities, we can learn from that,” she said, noting that Austin has already shifted its police fleet to electric vehicles. “We anticipate this is a changing market and with changing technology, we hope to be able to incorporate more and more in the future.”