Four Forward-Thinking Local Governments Earn EPA Climate Leadership Awards
March 1, 2013
Boulder County has set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 92 percent from 2005 to 2020, and is working to meet this goal through energy efficiency assistance to more than 8,400 homes and 2,400 businesses, encouraging bike sharing and other commuter projects, installing more than 900 kW of solar photovoltaics capacity on county buildings, and developing strict energy efficiency requirements in county residential and commercial building codes. In 2012, Boulder finalized its Climate Change Preparedness Plan, which includes goals for a disaster recovery plan, coordination of water resources management, the hiring of a full time community wildfire protection planner, and development of a heat emergency plan.
The City of Austin passed a resolution in 2007 to make Austin “the leading city in the nation in the effort to reduce the negative impacts of global warming.” The five-point Austin Climate Protection Plan established mid-range goals to make all city operations carbon-neutral by 2020; reduce total energy use to 800 MW, while increasing its renewable portfolio to 35 percent of its power mix; require energy efficiency measures in current homes, buildings, and new construction; increase collaboration for community-wide emission reductions; and provide tools such as emission offsets for city residents. In 2012, Austin achieved its goal of powering city-owned facilities with 100 percent renewable energy. The city has also provided climate change training to its workforce and implemented programs to share best climate change practices with residents and partners.
The Port of San Diego adopted a sustainability policy and established a Green Port Program in 2008. By 2011, it had achieved a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by conducting energy efficiency audits of its facilities, installing 170 kW of solar panels, adding compressed natural gas and hybrid vehicles to its fleet, installing 10 electric vehicle charging stations, educating port staff, establishing a commuter assistance program for employees, and conducting LED pilot projects. These efforts resulted in more than $176,000 in utility cost savings since the start of the Green Port Program. The port also set a goal in 2012 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all activities within its jurisdiction by 10 percent from a 2006 baseline by 2020, and 25 percent by 2035.
The Sonoma County Water Agency committed in 2006 to operating a carbon-free water system by 2015. The agency’s efforts to achieve this goal include leading a county-wide local government electric vehicle effort, initiating Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program financing for clean energy projects, and developing a Community Choice Aggregation program to facilitate distribution and development of renewable energy county-wide. The water agency also leads the Sonoma County Efficiency Financing Program to aggregate and fund energy and water efficiency upgrades at schools and public buildings county-wide. Nationally, the agency initiated, helped establish, and supports Applied Solutions, a non-profit network of counties and cities that identify and share innovative clean energy projects, programs, and financial mechanisms.