Climate Action Plan Encourages Sustainability
Sonoma County is the first county in the nation to approach climate protection comprehensively. For the past seven years, all nine cities in the County have been working together with the County to protect the climate. In October 2008, the Sonoma County Community Climate Action Plan was released and includes strengthening General Plans and Environmental Impact Reports to promote climate protection.
Sonoma County plans to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from municipal and community operations to 25% below 1990 levels by 2015. This amounts to a 1.4 million metric ton reduction of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from 2015 business as usual projections.
In order to achieve these reductions, Sonoma County aims to reduce emissions in four major categories: energy and water efficiency, smart transit and land use, renewable energy investment, and forest and farmland protections.
The County estimates the cost to implement the Climate Action Plan will be approximately $3.5 billion to $4 billion dollars over the span of seven to ten years. Sonoma County has identified several financing tools to accomplish these priorities; including AB 811 loans, Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and a Pay-As-You-Save® program for energy efficient appliances. Six months into the AB 811 program, they now have over $25 million in applications and about $18 million in approved projects, mostly solar and some major energy efficiency projects. About $100 million has been set aside for the program and the county is making plans for a bond issue if they pass that milestone.
What Actions is Sonoma Taking to Save Energy and Conserve Water?
The County is in the process of retrofitting buildings with state-of-the-art, energy efficient heating and cooling devices and appliances. The County has set a goal of retrofitting 80% of homes and commercial spaces to the highest efficiency level. The County also encourages the installation of water-saving appliances and more through their Climate Action Plan, solar hot water heaters and efficient irrigation systems. The County supports local city ordinances that establish mandatory green building ordinances. Finally, the County wants to improve the manner in which water is pumped around the County and wastewater is treated by coordinating pumping schedules and installing digesters to generate energy from wastewater biogas. Through these actions the County’s goal is to reduce 168,000 tons of CO2.
What Actions Is Sonoma Taking to Support Green Transportation?
In order to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used for transportation, the County wants to promote public transit and sustainable land use practices. This begins with the construction of a Sonoma/Marin train to encourage public transit between the two counties. In addition, the proposed Comprehensive Transportation Plan aims to achieve a 13% shift from driving to public transit. The County’s goal is to reduce 588,000 tons of CO2 through this initiative.
What Actions Is Sonoma Taking to Use Renewable Energy?
In the County, electricity use is responsible for 40% of all GHG emissions. By encouraging the use of renewable energy, the County hopes to reduce its electricity emissions by 50%. They plan to increase renewable energy sources and replace traditional energy sources with cleaner technologies. The County plans to replace 80% of residential natural gas furnaces with heat pumps and 80% of natural gas water heaters with solar hot water heaters. In addition, they will incentivize small-scale solar, wind and hydro installations. The County’s goal is to reduce 630,000 tons of CO2through this initiative.
Sonoma County continues to strive for its goal to reduce emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2015.
“There is widespread consensus that human health will be affected by changes in the world's climate. Implementing this Plan is a great step in protecting our residents.” - Walter Kruse, Sonoma County Director of Environmental Health
- Adopted County Community Climate Action Plan
- Retrofitted buildings with energy-efficient lighting and appliances
- Encourages the use of renewable energy
- Promotes sustainable land use practices
- Implemented Comprehensive Transportation Plan to increase the use of public transit
- Working to establish green building ordinances
- Land devoted to agriculture and forests will be protected and increased
- Producing electricity and fuel as well as food and wine from Sonoma farms and vineyards
Estimated Cost to Implement Initiatives:
- $3.5 billion to $4 billion over the next 7-10 years
Estimated Overall Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions:
- 1.4 million metric tons of CO2e