Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

At a Glance


Energy or Utility

Project Type

Data Analysis




Boston, MA


Lia Cairone developed a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory including emissions from energy use as well as process and fugitive emissions.


Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), a public utility that provides drinking water and wastewater services to 61 communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, enlisted Lia Cairone to develop a comprehensive greenhouse inventory for its operations. The goal was to identify and monitor greenhouse emission sources and trends and to develop a strategic plan for greenhouse gas reductions in support of the state’s “Leading by Example” program to combat climate change throughout state agencies.


After researching greenhouse gas emissions sources within the water and wastewater systems, meeting with dozens of staff from the engineering, energy, environmental quality, finance and operations teams and touring facilities like the John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant, the Deer Island Treatment Plant, the Clinton Wastewater Treatment Plant and the pelletization plant in Quincy, Cairone identified MWRA greenhouse gas emissions sources and set out to develop the inventory. Cairone built an inventory using best practices and methodology derived from the GHG Protocol and the Local Government Operations Protocol. The inventory documented and calculated emissions from energy use as well as process and fugitive emissions throughout the treatment processes. Cairone also distributed an authority-wide survey to calculate the carbon footprint of employee commuting. The inventory showed historical trends dating back to 2006, and enabled Cairone to present strategic recommendations for emissions reductions to the executive team, as well as to draft a public-facing report to inform the public about the findings.

Potential Impact

By developing a tool that informs the authority about its emissions and opportunities for reduction, and by committing to renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the “Leading by Example” targets, the MWRA is now in a position to significantly reduce its total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

If MWRA reduced emissions at its current rate, by 2020, it could reduce an additional 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. However, by adhering to some of the strategic recommendations laid out in this project, such as requiring electricity contract bids to include average energy mix and emission factors and using that information to secure low-carbon intensive electricity, emissions could be reduced much more rapidly. That action alone has the potential to reduce emissions by an additional 20,000 to 50,000 metric tons per year. Adhering to the targets of Executive Order 484, if the MWRA sets out to reduce emissions by 40 percent of the base year emissions by 2020, it could reduce emissions by an additional 45,000 metric tons a year. That would be equivalent to the CO2 emissions required to power more than 6,000 homes each year.

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