Environmental Sustainability

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Goal: To Enhance Environmental Sustainability and Resources 

Tree Planting Ceremony

Santa Cruz Takes Action on Climate Change

Conservation and caring for the earth are core values of our community, and Santa Cruz has joined with hundreds of cities throughout the world to commit to reducing our production of greenhouse gases 30 percent by the year 2020.

This summer, the Santa Cruz City Council will decide whether to adopt a groundbreaking plan outlining how our community can dramatically lighten its impact upon the environment.

The City of Santa Cruz’s draft Climate Action Plan, three years in the making, recommends a series of  energy and cost-saving practices that can be adopted by individuals, businesses and local government to permanently lower the amount of fossil fuels we consume on a daily basis.

The plan also discusses ways the city can build and renew neighborhood infrastructure to encourage walking, bicycling and shopping locally.

“We’ve done a greenhouse gas inventory of Santa Cruz, and we’ve outlined more than 200 actions that the city and the community can take to meet our reduction goals by 2020,” said Ross Clark, the City’s Climate Action Coordinator. “We are targeting ways to support a more sustainable and green community overall.”

According to the inventory, transportation accounts for about half of our community’s greenhouse gas emissions, with the balance split roughly between residential and commercial uses. City government activities account for about 4 percent of the total.

The 84-page draft plan offers conservation options in the areas of transportation, land use planning, water use, waste disposal and solar generation, as well as numerous ways to reduce energy waste in homes and businesses. 

Clark estimates that the plan, if approved, will reduce the City’s overall carbon emissions by 70,000 tons per year by 2020.

“Most of our program relies on offering incentives, and community buy-in,” Clark said. “Except for our Green Building program, we are not proposing a regulatory approach.”

Rebates for home energy audits and the purchase of energy-efficient appliances and solar systems, for instance, can encourage homeowners to make investments that will save money and energy for years to come. 

Green Building regulations would require planners to consider the lifelong energy use of new and remodeled structures, lightening the impact of community growth.