“Think globally, act locally” (David Brower, Friends of the Earth Founder). The federal government has spent more than $350 billion over the last ten years on losses from floods and other extreme weather incidents. This sum, however, does not include the hefty price tag associated with this year’s significant hurricanes and wildfires. These costs will multiply in the future as extreme weather events become more common, and the federal government needs to more effectively plan for and manage the havoc that climate change will bring.
While many U.S. states and cities are not well-prepared for climate change risks and impacts, and have not implemented comprehensive plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, California is a notable exception and so is Del Mar—which has been a regional leader in its efforts to increase alternative energy use and reduce GHG emissions.
In June 2016, the City of Del Mar adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP), which aims to reduce GHG emissions by 15% in 2020 and 50% in 2035. The two biggest contributors to our 2012 baseline GHG totals were transportation and energy use/generation. Del Mar has also joined with the City of San Diego in setting a 100% clean energy goal for 2035.
We are also exploring the benefits of Community Choice Energy (CCE) with the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside, and will be moving forward in the near future with the feasibility study needed to collect energy load data and develop a business plan. CCE is a model that has worked in other California cities, and allows cities to procure energy from clean sources only, with the distribution and actual billing still handled by the utility company, in our case SDG&E. Solana Beach has recently agreed upon moving forward with an independent CCE and has also adopted a 100% clean energy goal. (Note: Learn more by attending a Nov. 7 workshop on CCEs sponsored by the City and its Sustainability Advisory Board at 6:30 pm at the Powerhouse).
Reducing energy use in Del Mar’s commercial and residential buildings is an important step in reaching our CAP goals. The new City Hall and Town Hall are being constructed to CalGreen Tier 1 building standards and will include solar panels, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging stations. As detailed elsewhere in this issue (see City Hall update page 14), there are many energy-conserving features incorporated into the two buildings, and the project will serve as a template for more efficient construction of major commercial developments currently being planned for Del Mar. There is also a state mandate to move residential construction codes to zero-net-energy (ZNE) in 2020, so Del Mar is primed to start the transition to more efficient construction standards.
While there are numerous ways we can help to reduce GHG emissions, reducing energy consumption is the easiest way each of us can contribute to meeting Del Mar’s CAP goals, while making Del Mar cleaner, healthier and an even better place to live. Start by reviewing your detailed SDG&E bill, and try to reduce your electricity consumption by 20% over the next year. This may mean replacing old appliances with new energy efficient models, upgrading windows, or just turning off more lights, printers or cable receivers when you are not using them. Rebates are available for many of these purchases (click on the Go Green link on the city website and scroll down to SDG&E rebates), so let’s make energy reduction a community-wide goal, just as we cut our water usage during the drought. We succeeded then, and we can succeed now.