Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

City of Chula Vista – Land Use & Community Design Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Land Use & Community Design

In anticipation of considerable new housing growth, Chula Vista established a suite of greenhouse gas reduction measures to achieve its community wide emission reduction goal of 20% below 1990 levels by 2010 and 80% below by 2050.

Community: Chula Vista (San Diego County)

Population: 232,000


Chula Vista adopted measures aimed, in part, at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in new development. The measures emphasize building-specific energy measures for new communities, as well as comprehensive project design criteria to boost community wide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Program Highlights

  • Community wide greenhouse emission reduction measures focus on key strategies, including new development site design for carbon reduction, onsite energy generation, and compact development.
  • Emphasis is on measurable actions for tracking carbon reduction over time on a project basis.
  • Builders must use appropriate software to calculate energy efficiency of new developments.

Lessons Learned

  • To really make a difference in a carbon reduction program, it’s essential to have performance metrics with active reporting to ensure programs are regularly monitored and the metrics are met.
  • Consider focusing on areas where your agency can implement programs over which you have direct control, and thus, have potential impact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Chula Vista was one of the first California communities to conduct a community wide greenhouse gas inventory. Completed in 1996, the inventory analyzed 1990 base year emissions. In 2005, the city conducted a second greenhouse gas inventory, only to learn that despite its best intentions to reduce emissions during the interim period, community wide emissions increased overall by 35 percent. This largely was a result of 35,000 new homes built in the intervening years.

However, the more recent inventory indicated that per capita carbon emissions decreased by 17 percent, due largely to greener energy sources. The city still plans to reduce future overall emissions. To evaluate the best path for doing so, the city established the Climate Change Working Group, comprised of local stakeholders. In July 2008, the working group recommended and the Chula Vista City Council adopted seven key measures to reduce carbon emissions that build upon the city’s existing carbon reduction action plan.

Carbon Reductions in New Development

Central to the seven adopted measures are two that focus on land use. One encourages smart growth around three trolley stations along the I-5 corridor. The second focuses on community scale or project specific site design. Because the Chula Vista General Plan envisions at least 30,000 new homes before the city is built-out, the focus for future reductions will be on large scale developments and specific plans.

In addition to requiring that new developments demonstrate energy efficiency in individual homes and buildings, the city will require that development be analyzed for air quality impacts, using industry-accepted software, such as INDEX. The goal is to minimize emissions. It will also consider using additional software tools, such as the California Energy Commission’s PLACE3’s software, to further evaluate site design.

Overall, the city will encourage new development that works toward carbon neutrality, similar to the goals of LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development). Some of the measures that can be incorporated include site orientation for passive and active solar energy, onsite distributed energy generation (i.e., renewable, co-generation, or fuel cells), efficient landscaping and enhanced water conservation strategies.

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

Log in