The Institute for Local Government’s Sustainability Best Practices Framework offers options for local action in ten areas. They are drawn from practical experiences of cities and counties throughout California. The options vary in complexity and are adaptable to fit the unique needs and circumstances of individual communities.
Local officials and staff may use the framework in a variety of ways, including to:
Generate ideas about programs and policies to pursue;
Inform a comprehensive climate action planning process; or
Integrate sustainability into general plan policies.
Download the entire Best Practices Framework or use the navigation on the left or below to access best practices, case stories and resources by best practice area.
For information related to greenhouse gas inventories, climate action planning and adapting to climate change, visit Planning for Climate Change.
Energy generation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, strategies to conserve energy and use it more efficiently in agency operations and the community help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, energy efficiency and conservation measures save money and resources.
Water and waste water systems are important elements to addressing climate change for several reasons. First, since energy is used to deliver water and waste water services, using water and wastewater systems more efficiently indirectly also reduces energy use. Second, the impacts of climate change include increased drought and extreme weather events, such as heavy rain and storms, floods and reduced snow pack, all of which effect water availability. Thus, efforts to conserve and use water more efficiently will help cities and counties adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The best practices included in this section apply to cities and counties that provide water and waste water services directly, as well as to those that receive these services from other public or private agencies.
Green buildings reduce energy consumption, use water more efficiently and utilize materials with recycled content, thus saving money and natural resources and related greenhouse gas emissions. Local agencies have taken a variety of approaches to embrace green building policies and programs, consistent with the unique characteristics of their individual communities.
The largest sources of human-generated methane, a potent greenhouse gas, comes from improperly managed landfills. Thus, waste reduction and recycling activities reduce the potential to generate methane at landfills, as well as reduces pollutants generated from transporting waste to disposal sites.
Waste reduction and recycling activities also conserve natural resources.
Climate-friendly purchasing is the procurement or acquisition of goods and services that are a lesser or reduced source of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with competing goods or services that serve the same purpose.
Energy generated from renewable sources produces less greenhouse gas emissions than energy generated from conventional sources; low carbon fuels are those that are formulated to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Transportation is the largest generator of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the number and length of vehicle trips and engine idling reduces those emissions. Efficient transportation systems also conserve fuel and reduce travel costs and expensive road repairs.
Well-planned communities with a balance of housing, jobs, shopping, schools and recreation give people the option of walking, biking, or using transit rather than driving. This results in lower greenhouse gas emissions and also promotes economic development, physical activity and more vibrant, healthy and sustainable communities.
Providing reliable and objective information helps residents understand the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change. Involving the public in the development of climate change policies and programs builds community awareness and support for local actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the co-benefits of actions that reduce climate change.
The LinkedInTM group is a place for local government sustainability practitioners to connect, exchange information, discuss best practices, and seek feedback on project ideas directly from their peers.
The Beacon Award is sponsored by the Statewide Energy Efficiency
Collaborative, which offers no-cost resources to support the
energy and climate initiatives of California local governments.
Click here to learn more.