Climate Calculators

Climate calculators are tools that can help cities and counties conduct greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventories for a specified report year. Some calculators are available to assist with quantifying GHG reductions. Modeling tools can be used for climate action planning to help cities estimate GHG emissions and potential reductions for various scenarios. Please see below for a summary of climate calculators and modeling tools appropriate for cities and counties.

Conducting A GHG Emission Inventory

Climate Registry Information System (CRIS)
Several cities and counties have historically used the California Climate Action Registry’s On-Line Tool (CARROT) to calculate and report GHG emissions. However, CCAR is no longer registering GHG emission inventories. CCAR formed The Climate Registry, which offers the next generation of online reporting through The Climate Registry Information System (CRIS). Cities and counties can use CRIS to report their GHG emission inventories, which is 3rd-party certified and available for public review.

Clean Air and Climate Protection (CACP) Software 2009
Local governments can use the Clean Air and Climate Protection (CACP) software to determine GHG emissions and criteria pollutants from government operations and communities. CACP is a downloadable spreadsheet, which ICLEI members can use to input aggregate information about energy usage, waste generation, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to calculate a GHG emission inventory. CACP was updated in April of 2009 to include the calculation methods of the Local Government Operations Protocol.

Local Government Operations Protocol
Since both CRIS and CACP calculators require a membership fee, some local governments may be interested in calculating their own GHG emission inventories. The Local Government Operations Protocol (LGOP) provides a standardized set of guidelines, methodologies and calculations for local governments to quantify and report GHG emission inventories from municipal operations. While there is not a calculator for the LGOP, it provides the option for a ‘free’ method to calculate GHG emissions from municipal operations.

Estimating GHG Emission Reductions

GreenPoint Rated Climate Calculator
The GreenPoint Rated Climate Calculator offers a way to calculate GHG emission reductions of a green home compared to a conventional home of the same vintage. The GHG emission reduction rating is specific to the building regardless of ownership or occupancy behavior. Build It Green and partnered to develop version one of the GreenPoint Rated Climate Calculator as one tool to measure and verify GHG emission reductions from green buildings. Cities and counties can use the calculator to determine GHG emission reductions from new construction of green homes in their local jurisdiction.

Waste Reduction Model (WARM)
WARM was developed to assist solid waste managers in determining the GHG impacts of their waste management practices. WARM compares GHG and energy impacts of landfilling, recycling, incineration, composting, and source reduction.

Center for Urban Forest Research (CUFR) Tree Carbon Calculator
The CUFR Tree Carbon Calculator for California climate regions produces carbon storage and sequestration values for a tree plus the associated energy conservation and emission reductions. The CUFR Tree Carbon Calculator is the only tool approved by the California Climate Action Registry's Urban Forest Project Reporting Protocol for quantifying carbon dioxide sequestration from tree planting projects.

Modeling Tools for Climate Action Planning

The California Emissions Estimator Model (CalEEMod), developed in cooperation with air districts throughout California, is a new statewide land use project emissions model designed to quantify potential criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) associated with construction and operation from a variety of land uses, such as residential and commercial facilities. CalEEMod also calculates indirect GHG emissions from energy use, water/wastewater conveyance, wastewater treatment, solid waste disposal, and vegetation planting and/or removal. In addition, CalEEMod calculates benefits from implementing mitigation measures, including GHG mitigation measures developed and approved by the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA). Finally, Pavley standards and Low Carbon Fuel standards are incorporated into mobile source emission factors. The model analyzes at the air district, county, air basin, or state level using approved emission factors, established methodologies, and the latest survey data. Those expected to use the model include environmental consultants/professionals, public agency land use planners, air quality districts, CEQA/NEPA document reviewers, land use developers, and decision-makers.

INDEX is a climate action planning tool available to assist with AB 32 and SB 375 calibrations for California energy and GHG emissions. It is a land-use and transportation scenario tool that quantifies total GHG emissions from existing community conditions, and compares them to alternative future scenarios sketched by stakeholders. In addition to GHG emissions, INDEX evaluates scenarios with 90 indicators measuring urban design, housing, employment, recreation, water, transportation, and infrastructure. Users are able to sketch and evaluate low-carbon scenarios in real-time at “digital charrettes,” for consideration during general plan updates and preparation of MPO sustainable community strategies. In addition to building and transportation GHG emissions, INDEX also estimates materials-embodied emissions and vegetative sequestration of emissions.

The Urban Emissions Model (URBEMIS) uses the ITE Trip Generation Rate Manual and the Air Resources Board’s (ARB) motor vehicle emissions model (EMFAC) for transportation calculations. Area source outputs include natural gas use, landscaping equipment, and fireplaces. It also estimates construction impacts and impacts of mitigation options. An updated version with CO2 outputs will be available soon. In the interim, CO2factors (pounds per mile) provided by ARB could be used to convert VMT per day into CO2 per day.

Sustainable Communities Model
This model quantifies total CO2e emissions allowing communities the ability to optimize planning decisions that result in the greatest environmental benefit for the least cost. Total CO2e emissions are based on emissions from energy usage, water consumption and transportation. The model provides a comparison of various scenarios to provide environmental performance, economic performance, and cost benefit analysis.

I-PLACE3S is scenario planning software designed specifically for regional and local governments to help understand how their growth and development decisions can contribute to improved sustainability. GIS data describing existing, long-term baseline and alternative land use plans are uploaded to a high-speed secure server. A comprehensive set of planning outputs include estimates of CO2, criteria pollutants and energy demand on neighborhood through regional level scenarios. While GIS data are commonly available, creating scenarios and managing the public process for a robust I-PLACE3S program requires a time and fiscal commitment from the regional government and its member local governments. The benefits include a tool that can provide immediate outputs to compare various alternatives during public meetings, as well as provide access for local development project CEQA analyses and General Plan/ Sustainable Community Strategy planning.

The Air Resources Board’s EMission FACtors (EMFAC) model is used to calculate emission rates from all motor vehicles in California. The emission factors are combined with data on vehicle activity (miles traveled and average speeds) to assess emission impacts. The URBEMIS model described above uses EMFAC to calculate the transportation emission impacts of local projects.

Hara Environmental and Energy Management (Hara EEM)
Hara EEM enables local governments to comprehensively manage and implement a Climate Action Plan (CAP) while leveraging best practices to improve efficiency and manage risk. With Hara EEM, cities and counties can aggregate environmental record information from relevant data sources in order to provide a comprehensive view of greenhouse gas emissions, resource consumption, and environmental impact. Local governments can define strategies, optimize planning decisions, forecast reductions, identify objectives and metrics, and calculate timing and benefits for each initiative. In addition, Hara EEM helps local governments to manage the execution of environmental and energy programs, track results per initiative, and provides an audit trail for any current or future regulatory requirements.