BENTON COUNTY, Ore. -- The Benton County Board of Commissioners approved a plan Tuesday to make the county a little more energy efficient.
The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent of the levels in the year 1990 by the year 2050.
Staff with the county said they’ve been seeing so many effects of climate change in their area. Between the changes in weather to the bone-dry rivers, they said conditions are only expected to get worse.
“We're already seeing snow packs being reduced. That means when we get our water in the summer, that's going to be less and less,” said Sean McGuire, the sustainability coordinator for Benton County. “What are we going to do as we have increased populations? These are very serious impacts that are coming, and we need to do something about it today."
Benton County is expecting an increase of at least 20,000 people by the year 2040, and they need to be able to accommodate them. So, McGuire said they need to make changes now.
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best is today,” McGuire said. “If we can't prepare for the future today, when are we going to do it?"
The changes just affect buildings and employees within the Benton County government. There are little changes in office etiquette, like carpooling and composting, but there are bigger changes as well. For example, the use of alternative-fuel cars and high energy efficiency standards that all construction work must abide by.
"We are completely focused on the county government,” McGuire said. “We were instructed by the commissioners to get our own house in order first, then we can slowly get out into the communities."