Graff fights greenhouse gas emissions in the city of brotherly love
It was Feb. 5 when the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium held a conference in Harrisburg at the Rachel Carson Building. One of the speakers at the conference was Robert Graff, who is the manager in the Office of Energy and Climate Solutions at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Graff’s organization, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, was designated the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Greater Philadelphia Region. The Metropolitan Planning Organization is bi-state and includes nine counties surrounding and including Philadelphia. One of the responsibilities the organization is responsible for are energy use and greenhouse gas emissions inventories.
Graff talked about a number of local government issues during his presentation including climate change adaptation and Greenhouse Gas reduction. Some of the local government issues caused by climate change adaptation were new areas that were flooding and the fact that storm water infrastructure is over capacity. This can also affect changes in summer and winter recreation and vegetation changes.
“Ski areas are having less snow,” Graff said. “Snow is coming later in the year and leaving earlier.”
Graff gave a specific example when it came to vegetation, talking about a type of local tree that was forced to leave the area due to a warming climate.
“Agriculture has been affected as well: the Sugar Maple tree that was local to the area was forced to move north,” Graff said.
Graff also talked about the work his organization did with regards to greenhouse gas reduction. Some of the things his organization works towards are alternative energy facilities such as solar power, alternative fuel vehicles such as electric vehicles and natural gas vehicles, and making it easier for people to walk and bike in the community. Graff made a number of specific points about the importance of biking and walking in a community.
“From a greenhouse gas standpoint, cars put out a lot of start and stop emissions,” Graff said. “It releases less greenhouse gases and gets children comfortable getting places by walking or biking.”
Graff explained that climate change is already occurring and can no longer be completely prevented. He continued that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions came from generating electricity and using vehicles to transport passengers and goods.
Graff talked about how lighting and temperature controls have gotten better and less expensive over the years. Although he believes lighting and temperature controls can increase energy efficiency, he warned that the challenge is to set the lighting and temperature controls correctly.