Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to your questions on the Climate and Air Pollution Planning Assistant (CAPPA)
The Climate and Air Pollution Planning Assistant (CAPPA) is an Excel-based decision-support tool designed to help U.S. local governments explore and identify potential opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution emissions. CAPPA provides a starting point for two major tasks: determining an achievable emissions reduction target and selecting strategies to include in a local government–operations or community-scale emissions-reduction plan, commonly called a climate action plan. CAPPA users can compare the relative benefits of a wide variety of emissions reduction and clean air measures, and identify those most likely to be successful for their community based on its priorities and constraints.
CAPPA helps users make highly informed decisions because it allows them to enter their own specific energy usage and emissions information (from their greenhouse gas emissions inventory) and, via CAPPA’s calculators, view the hypothetical outcomes for various emissions reduction strategies. CAPPA includes a customizable and expandable library of more than 110 distinct emissions reduction strategies for local governments, in categories ranging from high-performance buildings and energy-efficient appliances to renewable energy production, VMT reduction, and waste management. Its calculation functions are based on real-world data from other U.S. communities and a variety of expert sources.
After reading this FAQ, download the CAPPA User Guide, which provides detailed instructions on how to use CAPPA. In addition, ICLEI will hold periodic webinar trainings for staff from local government members. Check the schedule for upcoming training dates. Recorded, on-demand trainings will also be available on the ICLEI USA website. As new actions and functionality are developed for CAPPA, trainings will be held on those topics as well. The CAPPA User Guide is a convenient way to access anytime information about how and when to use CAPPA.
The Excel-based CAPPA was developed with funding from the EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, and thus, it is freely available to the public. The intent of CAPPA is to assist local governments and other public entities in prioritizing actions worth pursuing for meeting their greenhouse gas and other air pollution reduction targets.
To download CAPPA, staff from ICLEI member local governments may simply log into the ICLEI USA website and click the download link on the CAPPA main page. Individuals and staff from nonmember local governments must provide contact information before downloading the software. ICLEI will only use this information to notify users of CAPPA updates.
CAPPA relies on data from local government policies and projects from across the country to build calculators and replicate the best climate mitigation actions. If your community has engaged in an action that is not currently covered in CAPPA, it could be considered for inclusion in future updates to the tool. This can be an excellent strategy for gaining national recognition for your efforts as well as helping ICLEI fulfill its role in building a robust network of local governments taking action to address climate change and build sustainable communities.
CAPPA is a freely available resource, which leaves a revenue gap for the support and maintenance of the tool. The best way for ICLEI to leverage continued funding opportunities is to receive feedback from the user community. ICLEI is interested in learning about your experiences using CAPPA. Positive user stories help us demonstrate to funders that CAPPA is a useful tool, worthy of continued support. We also want to know about any frustrations and issues you have with the tool as well. These will help us to demonstrate that there is a need for new functions and will help us create a better tool to meet your needs. Please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes. Due to the rapid developments in climate action planning, ICLEI will be periodically developing new calculators associated with the latest technologies and policy instruments available to local governments. CAPPA will be continuously updated with the latest information available as more climate protection measures and polices are developed by ICLEI and local governments across the country. Currently CAPPA is only available in an Excel-based version to be downloaded to the user’s hard drive. Future versions of CAPPA will be Web-based, and automatically updated with new calculators and best practices, and the most current emissions factors.
CAPPA is a complement to ICLEI’s Clean Air & Climate Protection Software 2009, which is used for emissions inventorying and tracking reductions. A local government following ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation would first use CACP 2009 to complete an emissions inventory. The resulting data from that inventory would then be used in CAPPA as a baseline for building an action plan. As a local government moves from planning to implementation, the performance of individual actions could then be tracked over time using the Measures module of CACP 2009.
Local governments will find CAPPA helpful after they have completed their greenhouse gas emissions inventory (Milestone One) and are in the process of completing either Milestone Two or Milestone Three. For Milestone Two—setting an emissions reduction target—CAPPA can be used to help choose a reduction target by enabling a community to see the potential impact of a variety of measures that would be feasible to undertake and achieve a realistic, yet still ambitious goal. Users can continually tweak the “degree of implementation” for their selected strategies to view various emissions reduction outcomes and select an appropriate reduction target for their community.
In Milestone Three—developing a local climate action plan—CAPPA can also play an important role in the early stages, helping users select among a wide variety of strategies to include in their community’s plan.
CAPPA does not produce finalized climate action plans for local governments. It is intended to provide a high-level view of emissions reductions strategies in the early stages of creating a climate action plan. All results from CAPPA should be analyzed and considered appropriately by user communities before adoption in a final emissions reduction plan. As a community moves from the higher level of planning facilitated by CAPPA toward implementation, it is recommended that they seek additional tools and methods to refine the estimates of the impact of each measure. Where available, these are listed in CAPPA.
There are two ways to use CAPPA for climate action planning: exploring the benefits of individual measures using individual calculator worksheets, or creating a comprehensive emissions reduction action plan using criteria benefit ratings assigned to each measure.
Criteria benefit ratings include the approximate cost of implementation, time frame, operation and maintenance costs, and the degree of control held by the local government. Each measure has default ratings of how it performs under those criteria; users can specify their priorities, and then CAPPA determines the measures most likely to be implemented by the user. Measures with the best criteria scores are added until an emissions reduction goal is met.
CAPPA is configured to calculate reductions in greenhouse gas-generating activities from each of the actions it contains, in terms of kilowatt hours of electricity, therms of natural gas, vehicle miles traveled, and so on. The activity reductions associated with each action are estimated based on studies of similar actions taken elsewhere. The primary driver of each activity reduction depends on the degree of implementation the users chooses. CAPPA calculates activity reductions and subsequent emissions reductions based on the degree of implementation specified.
Yes, CAPPA is customizable in several ways. In addition to being able to adjust the degree of implementation for each action, users may also change some of the default values for the effectiveness of particular strategies and costs associated with fuel and energy use and emissions factors for their region. While CAPPA does contain a wealth of information on climate protection actions, it likely does not contain every option that is being conceived of across the country.
CAPPA contains placeholders for up to 15 user-definable measures where the user can make calculations for actions they are considering, which CAPPA does not cover. Spaces for avoided fuel use or energy saved are included so that the user can enter the results of their calculation in the appropriate cell and CAPPA will calculate the emissions reductions. User-defined measures are then treated just as any other action in CAPPA and will be incorporated into the final draft action plan according to the decision criteria values assigned to them by the user.