Reducing Residents’ Ecological Footprint

In 2001 Marin County became the first local government to calculate its ecological footprint. With a population of 248,000 people, the footprint measured at 27 global acres per person. This is slightly higher than that of the average American’s footprint at 24 acres.

In 2006, the Marin County Climate Action Plan was signed into action to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last several years, the County has taken specific actions to lower energy consumption, reduce waste, reduce pesticide use, recycle numerous products, diversy the workforce and increase affordable housing.

Actions such as purchasing hybrids, retrofitting facilities with improved energy efficiency, lighting retrofits, providing commute alternatives for employees and switching incandescent traffic signals to light emitting diodes (LEDs) have all helped the County reduce municipal operation emissions by at least 4% over baseline levels.

Marin County has set a target to reduce GHG emissions by 15-20% below 1990 levelsby the year 2020 for internal government and 15% countywide.

What Action Is Marin County Taking to Provide Clean Energy?

An initiative known as Marin Clean Energy is a program that will allow electricity users to opt for energy from PG&E that comes from 50% or 100% renewable sources. The energy will be slightly more expensive but will come from cleaner sources such as wind and solar. Through this initiative, Marin hopes to increase its share of renewably generated electricity to 40% by the year 2015. This shift to renewables would save an additional 470,000 global acres each year from the year 2015 onward.

What Actions Is Marin County Taking to Build Green?

The County codes for new buildings or remodeling require extensive recycling of waste materials, donating unused construction materials to charitable organizations, minimal disruption of exiting shrubs and trees and much more. New or remodeled homes are required to beat 2005 State energy efficiency standards by 15% to 57%, depending on the size and location of the building.

What Action Did Marin County Take to Support Green Transportation?

In 2002 Marin Public Works began purchasing hybrid vehicles to add to the fleet when old vehicles were ready for replacement. By the end of 2006, the fleet included forty hybrid vehicles. In addition, County employees are offered a pre-tax program to pay for public transit tickets. Carpooling incentives include preferred parking as well as a ride-matching service. Showers have been installed at the Civic Center, and are available to employees to facilitate biking.

Marin County continues its mission to reduce GHG emissions by 15-20% below 1990 levels by the year 2020 for internal government and 15% countywide. The County’s next project involves a new County garage carwash system that will filter and reuse 90% of wash water for an estimated water savings of 896,400 gallons a year.


Marin County
3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

“Our residents are excited about the benefits and options of energy from renewable sources.” - Omar Peña, Marin County’s Green Building Coordinator

Green Actions:

  • Converted all traffic signal lights to LED
  • Installed multiple photovoltaic (PV) solar panels
  • Added 40 hybrid vehicles to County fleet
  • Adopted a Climate Action Plan, 2006
  • Implemented Construction & Demolition Recycling Ordinance
  • Created Marin Clean Energy Program
  • Retrofitted municipal buildings with energy efficient lighting and appliances

Environmental Benefits:

  • Replaced thousands of light fixtures throughout County facilities with higher efficiency T8s, cutting lighting energy need by up to 48%

Estimated Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions:

  • 6,900 tons of CO2 from solar facilities annually
  • 150,000 tons of CO2 from Construction and Demolition Recycling Ordinance (2002-2007)

Estimated Annual Energy Cost Savings:

  • $85,694 from Civic Center equipment upgrades
  • $24,000 from County General Services Building photovoltaic installation in 2004