Greener pastures: A look at state agencies’ sustainability efforts in 2021 | Five for the Weekend

Currently, the commonwealth’s fleet contains five battery electric vehicles and 59 plug-in hybrid vehicles

By: - April 16, 2022 6:30 am

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Happy weekend, all. 

Ever wonder what state agencies are doing to lower their carbon footprint and operate more sustainably?

The GreenGov Report, published annually by the Pennsylvania GreenGov Council, aims to shed light on those practices.

The 32-page report, shows everything from every consumption and reduction by state agency to the number of LEED-certified government buildings.

Let’s take a look at some quick hits from this year’s report:

Buildings

In 2021, 30 high-performance – those achieving a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ANSI/ASHRAE/IES) standards – were in the works.

Energy Consumption & Reduction

Some state agencies fared better than others when it came to energy use in 2021.

For instance, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) reduced its consumption rate from the 2019-2020 fiscal year to the 2020-2021 fiscal year by more than 30 percent. 

Other agencies – such as the Department of Agriculture – saw an increase in consumption.

The department increased consumption by 12.3 percent over the same period, which the report contributes to pandemic-related scenarios.

“The Farm Show building was temporarily used for pandemic emergency management as a hub to stockpile COVID-19 supplies,” the report reads.

EV Procurement

Commonwealth agencies have a goal to transition 25 percent of their vehicle fleet to electric by 2025. However, the report notes that 2021 was not a great year for that goal.

The Department of General Services reported that supply chain issues made it difficult for the state agency to acquire more battery-powered electric vehicles in 2021.

“2021 resulted in little progress in electric vehicle purchases and progress toward the performance goal,” the report reads. “The commonwealth is only 6.6 percent of its way to meeting the 2025 goal.

Currently, the commonwealth’s fleet contains five battery electric vehicles and 59 plug-in hybrid vehicles.

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

Mobile home park, Sarasota, Florida, USA, elevated view
A mobile home park in Sarasota, Fla. (Getty Images)

1. Pa. man says mobile home residents are ‘sitting on a time bomb’ in red-hot housing market

Jon Zang walks his dog several times a day in his mobile home community in West Goshen Township, Pennsylvania.

It’s quiet, as most of his neighbors are at work. But he often wonders how many more walks he and his bulldog mix, Ladybug, will have down the streets of the place he’s called home for 21 years.

“We’re literally sitting on a time bomb that we’re sure is going to go off at some point, but we don’t know when,” Zang said.

His park was purchased by an investment company, Walkart Inc., that residents say is trying to change the county zoning laws to close down a community that’s been home to 60 manufactured homes since 1957. Walkart, which could not be reached for comment, wants to build luxury apartments in its stead, according to Zang and a report in the Daily Local News.

AFL-CIO treasurer Frank Snyder speaks at a 2020 rally in Pittsburgh
Pa. AFL-CIO treasurer Frank Snyder speaks at an October 2020 rally in Pittsburgh. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

2. Pennsylvania labor federation requests investigation into workplace harassment allegations

An internal investigation into the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor is set to begin after a prominent labor talk show host accused the chapter’s new president of workplace harassment.

In an April 6 letter viewed by the Capital-Star, the national AFL-CIO, a federation that includes 57 unions and 12.5 million workers, told the state AFL-CIO that it was hiring a third party to investigate recent and unspecified “allegations of misconduct.”

The letter cites the national federation’s code of conduct, which states that the organization will “not tolerate discriminatory, harassing or otherwise unacceptable behavior in the workplace or at any of its activities, events or meetings.”

The investigation is being conducted at the request of state leaders, the letter noted. No timeline was given for the investigation.

From left to right: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (Philadelphia Gay News photo collage).

3. In Philly, Democratic U.S. Senate candidates battle for votes

As the primary race for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat enters its final stage, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, and Pa. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are competing for support from Philadelphia’s organizations and its 1.1 million registered voters.

Kenyatta has represented Philadelphia’s 181st district in the Pa. General Assembly since 2019. Some of his political priorities include fighting for equity and inclusion, raising the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers, expanding our democracy and protecting voting rights, ensuring easy access to healthcare and working to stem the effects of climate change.

Lamb, D-17th District, was elected to Congress in a suburban Pittsburgh district that swayed more conservative. Despite a more moderate record, many of his priorities fall in line with typical Democratic values, including fighting to slow climate change, protecting voting rights, preventing gun violence and pushing for LGBTQ rights.

Josh Shapiro about to speak a press conference
Attorney General and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Josh Shapiro at a press conference outside Harrisburg on March 24, 2022. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

4. Capital-Star Q+A: Josh Shapiro on the death penalty, climate and Harrisburg

Josh Shapiro, 48, is Pennsylvania’s two-term attorney general, and a former county commissioner and state representative from Montgomery County.

First elected to the state House in 2004 in a then-reliably red suburban Philadelphia district, he slowly rose to the top of Pennsylvania Democratic politics. In fact, he doesn’t even face a primary opponent for the open governor’s mansion.

The Capital-Star sat down with Shapiro earlier this year to talk about his record as attorney general, some key campaign issues, and his strategy to tackle Harrisburg’s growing dysfunction.

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith, speaks during a press conference, which discussed the need to expand our lens of focus from opioids to fighting overall substance use disorder with the increase of polysubstance and stimulant use across the commonwealth, inside Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in Harrisburg on Monday, October 18, 2021 (Commonwealth Media Services photo).

5. Pa. counties to receive first payments from $26B opioid settlement this summer

Pennsylvania will receive $1.07 billion as part of a $26 billion national settlement with three pharmaceutical distributors, and counties should see the first round of payments to address the opioid crisis by early summer.

State officials on Wednesday delivered an update on the agreement between three of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical providers — Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen — and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson over their roles in fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic.

“These settlement funds will provide more treatment and more capacity to county and local organizations, help provide important ancillary services — like transportation for people trying to access treatment and save lives,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.

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