Taking care of our climate
Walnut Creek is actively working to address climate change. In 2012, the City Council approved Walnut Creek’s first Climate Action Plan (CAP), which outlines the City’s overall strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using the year 2005 as a baseline, the CAP sets a goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions 15% by the year 2020, in line with the state’s goal for 2020.
Each year, the City monitors and tracks its progress. While the 2013 greenhouse gas inventory found that emissions had increased 10 percent relative to 2005 (largely due to more emissions from the transportation sector), the 2014 annual monitoring brought better news.
Our community’s emissions are trending down due to initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Investing in climate protection
In December 2014, the City approved almost $500,000 in one-time funds to support our Climate Action Plan. With these funds, the City was able to offer rebates to more than 40 businesses completing energy efficiency upgrades, run a new residential energy and water efficiency program that served 563 residents, and install additional electric vehicle charging stations. In the past year, the City has initiated a number of activities that will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and keep us on track to meet our 2020 goal. Highlights include:
- The City joined MCE, a community choice energy program (also called community choice aggregation), to provide additional electricity options to residents and businesses. By providing a default of 50% of electricity from renewable energy, the City projects it will reduce emissions by at least 15,960 metric tons.
- Applied for a $225,000 grant from CCTA to help the City create a Transportation Demand Management strategy, which is a comprehensive approach for the City to reduce vehicle trips, reduce parking demand, support alternative modes of transportation, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- County Connection’s Route 4 “Free Trolley” now runs on electricity instead of diesel
- Adopted a Pedestrian Master Plan to make walking safer, easier, and more attractive to residents and visitors
- Applied for $852,000 in grant funds for bus stop safety and accessibility improvements
- Launched Walnut Creek Saves, a no-cost energy and water savings program for residents available through December 2017.
- Offers PACE financing, which allows residential and commercial property owners to finance the upfront cost of energy efficiency, water efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicle chargers and pay them back over time through an assessment as part of their property taxes.
Initiatives at City Facilities
- The City is currently conducting energy efficiency audits on a number of its facilities to help make smart investments in upgrading to more efficient equipment to save energy and money
- Two new solar installations are under construction at Heather Farm and Boundary Oak Golf Course
- The City installed new, solar powered BigBelly recycling and trash containers downtown
- Five new electric vehicle charging stations were installed at the downtown Walnut Creek Library garage
- The City will be instituting organics recycling at all City-owned facilities even though the law only requires it at certain facilities. This service is free to the City as part of the waste management services provided by Republic Services.
What You Can Do
The City has accomplished a lot, but still needs the community’s help to reach its 2020 goal. Here are easy ways for residents and businesses to help reach our goals:
- Choose renewable energy. Residents and businesses can choose 100% renewable energy as your electricity source. Both electricity providers MCE and PG&E offer 100% renewable energy options.
- Green your commute. Walk, bike, take transit, or purchase an electric vehicle to green your commute.
- Be energy efficient. Homeowners can get rebates through BayAreaEnergyUpgrade.org for energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Both homeowners and tenants can get basic energy and water efficiency assessments at no cost through walnutcreeksaves.org.
- Sign up for updates. Visit www.walnut-creek.org/goinggreen to sign up for updates on the City’s sustainability work. You’ll get news on the latest programs, like the Bay Area SunShares program that is planned to launch in the Fall for residents interested in going solar or purchasing an electric vehicle at a reduced cost.
In August 2016, the state legislature passed SB32, a climate change bill that requires much steeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, setting a goal of reducing emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2030.The new goals are based on targets scientists say are necessary to limit warming and avoid the worst effects of climate change. As we approach the end of our current Climate Action Plan, the City Council could consider a second Climate Action Plan that sets new goals beyond 2020 and incorporates the strategies laid out by the state.