City of Fresno Makes Going Green Affordable
A large metropolitan area centered in the San Joaquin Valley, the city of Fresno is dedicated to lowering green house gas (GHG) emissions and preserving the surrounding natural landscape. Through the Fresno Green 2025 General Plan, Fresno is committed to making a positive impact upon the environment by encouraging the use of clean energy and alternative fuels for vehicles.
To reach the goal of becoming completely sustainable by 2025, solar innovation has become indicative of the community. Both the Municipal Services Department and the Fresno Yosemite International Airport installed photovoltaic (PV) panels to provide energy necessary for daily electricity use. Local businesses are encouraged to use environmentally friendly construction materials and designs; incentives like fee reductions, slight deviations from planning guidelines, and community awards are offered to participants. Airport solar panels provide 40 percent of the energy required for lights, air conditioning, controls, and tower communications. The panels are located on an unused airstrip, making use of otherwise wasted space.
Test loans for 100 solar water heaters are being provided to low income families as a gateway for a larger project, with $30,000 in potential green loans to reduce home electricity consumption by 50 percent.
How will the green effort effect Fresno’s jobs?
Fresno is also working to produce eco friendly jobs that support green enterprises and locally produced goods. Recently, Fresno was ranked 57th among the top 100 clean energy economies in the United States. By 2015, Fresno will create even more environmentally friendly jobs centered in low income areas. Over 9,000 of the jobs concentrate around the production or installation of wind turbines and solar photovoltaic energy.
What makes city buildings “green”?
Green buildings follow a set of regulations for energy use and sustainable building materials, sponsored by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. When assembling, priority is given to public health and environmentally sustainable designs. Civic departments also participate in environmentally preferred purchasing policies, buying goods from companies who are committed to preserving the environment. Fresno also gives precedence to public art displays, conserving open space, historic preservation, as well as safeguarding natural resources. Pedestrian and vehicle connectivity is encouraged to foster safety and reduce vehicle trips. Urban reforestation is also an effort led by Fresno. Shade trees will be planted to cover 50 percent of parking spaces while public parks are being built in existing neighborhoods to boost public activity.
Fresno has promoted itself as a “City as Good Steward”, what does that mean?
Fresno is committed to being a leader in the sustainable cities movement. In addition to solar power and green buildings, Fresno has also embarked on a project to establish a landfill diversion of 75 percent by 2012 and by 2025 the landfill will be zero waste. Water run-off will also be eliminated as well as an updated ecological protection for the city’s drinking water. Xeriscaping, landscaping designed to reduce water consumption through drought resistant plants and gardening, is being promoted throughout the city as a way for residents to reduce waste.
Residents and businesses of Fresno are dedicated to reducing the town’s ecological footprint through conservation measures aimed at both the public and private sectors.
Green Actions (2002-2011):
- All city vehicles and buses have been converted to clean fuel
- Solar panels have been installed on municipal buildings, private residences, commercial businesses, and the Fresno Yosemite International Airport
- All city vehicles will be converted to Hybrid cars or must attain 30 mpg, lowering transportation GHG emissions 90 percent by 2020
- Former Mayor Alan Autry sponsored Operation Clean Air to reduce air pollution along with a Clean Air initiative to decrease pollution caused by municipal buildings
Annual Cost Savings:
- The City of Fresno spent $750 million on energy in the form of electricity or natural gas in 2007. The Fresno Green 2025 plan will cut this by 30 percent, saving on average $225 million per year by reducing energy and water use in homes and businesses
- The Fresno Yosemite International Airport PV panels will reduce 29,785 pounds of CO2 per year, equivalent to removing 66 cars from the road