County of Sonoma

Beacon Participant Profile

“The County’s ongoing, bold commitment to climate protection flows from the Board’s goal to reduce the County’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015.” – Sonoma County website

About Sonoma County

  • Established: 1850
  • Population: 484,470 (as of 2008)
  • Location: 55 miles north of San Francisco
  • Elevation: ranges from sea level to 4480 feet
  • Area: 1,575 square miles

Climate Action Activities

  • ICLEI member (current as of May 2011)
  • Greenhouse gas inventory in progress, completion expected December 2011
  • Climate action plan for agency operations completed 2006
  • Community climate action plan in progress, completion expected December 2011
  • Sonoma County Energy Watch Program (in partnership with PG&E) provides technical assistance, services, and rebates to municipalities, non-profits, small businesses, and special districts to decrease utility costs by reducing electrical and gas consumption.
  • Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (a Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE program) provides property owners with energy improvement financing paid back through the property tax system.
  • Comprehensive Energy Project provides cash-neutral energy efficiency measures for county owned buildings, including lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, water retrofits, and installation of a 1.4 MW fuel cell cogeneration power plant.
  • Installed 750kW photo-voltaic solar array providing 80% of the electricity for the County’s Juvenile justice Center
  • Established green fleet policy and green fleet procurement program
  • Composting program at detention facilities diverts food waste and is part of jail industries training program
  • Established green leasing policy whereby the County, as a major leaser of commercial real estate, uses that market advantage to improve environmentally-friendly leased property

Climate Action Resources

Video Hope Marshall Kelly Rector
Spotlight on Sustainability Leadership in Sonoma County

Spotlight on Sustainability Leadership in Sonoma County
December 2012

Sonoma County is demonstrating its leadership through the Institute’s sustainability recognition program, the Beacon Award: Local Leadership toward Solving Climate Change. Watch a brief video about the county’s efforts to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Case Story

Sonoma County’s Purchasing Saves Green

Green purchasing is an important part of Sonoma County’s climate action plan. The county’s purchasing policy enables it to award contracts to green vendors for services or products that do less harm to the environment if the cost is within five percent of the lowest bid of other competitors. The county gives the same preference to local vendors to help reduce the greenhouse emissions associated with transportation of the products and to support the local economy.


Sonoma County Establishes Regional Climate Protection Authority

Sonoma County’s nine cities and multiple county agencies have been engaged in local climate protection efforts for more than ten years. In 2002, Sonoma became the first county to have all its jurisdictions conduct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories. In 2005, all ten local jurisdictions adopted a joint target of reducing GHG emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2015. In 2009 Sonoma took another pioneering step by establishing the Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA).


Sonoma County’s Energy Independence Program

A best practice case study developed by Pat Stoner, Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Coordinator.