Sonoma County Recognized as National Leader on Climate Actionby Emma Timboy-Pickering
The County of Sonoma's Board of Supervisors have shepherded the County's
national leadership and success on climate action. Supervisors, clockwise from
back left: Mike McGuire, Valerie Brown, David Rabbitt, Efren Carrillo, and Shirlee
Zane. Photo credit: County of Sonoma website
Sonoma County, CA, has joined a handful of leading local governments nationwide whose advanced climate action achievements place them at the vanguard of a movement. On August 23, the County received a Milestone Achievement Award from ICLEI USA’s Interim Executive Director, Michael Schmitz, in recognition of the County completing the fifth and final Milestone of ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation process.
What this means is that the County has quantified its climate action progress and has achieved one of its primary greenhouse gas reduction goals it set in 2003, thanks to a diverse range of initiatives and programs.
“The County of Sonoma is a vital part of the effort in California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Schmitz. “ICLEI is proud to acknowledge achievement of the important Milestone Five.”
Among California’s Local Government Leaders
The County is one of six California local governments that
have reached Milestone Five. Each Milestone represents a concrete step toward mitigating
climate change: conducting an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, setting an
emissions reduction target, developing a plan for achieving the target,
implementing the plan, and tracking emissions reductions due to measures from
The accomplishment of Milestone Five, tracking emissions
reductions, is significant because the
data can provide government, business, and community leaders with feedback to
build support in allocating resources and making programs and policies for
further emissions reductions.
Keys to Success: Reachable Goals, Performance Tracking, and Diverse Initiatives
The County began the Five Milestones process in 2003, by becoming an ICLEI member. In 2005, the Climate Protection Campaign completed a countywide inventory of emissions from the community. That same year, the County adopted the aggressive goal to reduce its entire community emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2015. The County also set a goal to reduce emissions from County government operations to 20% below 2000 levels by 2010.
In 2008 the County's Climate Protection Campaign released the Sonoma County Community Climate Action Plan to help the County meet the adopted reduction targets, save money, and create a more sustainable community.
The County has implemented many measures from the Plan and has worked with the Climate Protection Campaign to consistently monitor and verify the results of such measures. Closer tracking allowed them to tailor and target their initiatives for maximum impact.Here are a few of Sonoma County’s successful climate and energy actions, which both reduce GHG emissions and energy use, while strengthening the local economy:
- lighting, heating, cooling and water-system upgrades for more than 20 County buildings
- a 1.4MW hydrogen fuel cell to power the County administration center
- a 750kW solar array at the Juvenile Justice Center
- overall, enough installed solar power (40 million kWh) to reduce the total grid electricity consumption of the County by about 1.5%
- replacing inefficient County vehicles with 187 hybrids – the largest hybrid fleet of any local government in California, and the fifth largest in the nation
- an innovative Energy Independence Program to help property owners finance energy upgrades
Sonoma County's Impressive Leadership
At the awards presentation, ICLEI took special recognition in honoring County Board Supervisor Valerie Brown, for her contribution to local governments and climate protection. Supervisor Brown also works to empower local climate action nationally as a member of ICLEI USA’s Board of Directors. Her support for climate protection is echoed by her Board colleagues.
“Sonoma County is proud to be recognized for our sustainability efforts," said County Board Chairman Efren Carrillo. "We have led the way in developing innovative ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and save our taxpayers money by doing so. We are truly appreciative of this important recognition from ICLEI, and look forward to continued success as the County moves forward with our green house gas reduction initiatives.”