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County of Monterey – Involving the Public in Climate Change Action

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Civic Engagement

Monterey County’s program encourages home retrofits, protects consumers, stimulates the economy by making homes more attractive for resale, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Community:Monterey County

Population: 408,238


Monterey County offers homeowners a voluntary green building certification program, StepUp2Green, as an opportunity to have their home green certified. The goal is to create a standardized certification process that will encourage home retrofitting and assure homeowners that they are making improvements that effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Program Highlights

  • Members of the Monterey County’s business, government, and environmental sustainability communities met regularly, learned about green building, and collaboratively developed the program.
  • StepUp2Green reduces greenhouse gas emissions, helps people sell their homes, and thus stimulates the economy.
  • Standardized inspections protect homeowners from contractors that use improper retrofitting techniques.

  • By tracking program participation, the county can estimate community-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Lessons Learned

  • Using an incentive based program is crucial.
  • Bring participants up to speed, let everyone contribute to achieve a positive result, and encourage community ownership.
  • While it is important to be inclusive in the public engagement process, at a certain point you have to go with who is interested.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

The impetus for Monterey County’s StepUp2Green home certification program came from realtors and builders on the County Business Council. Individuals in the home industry wanted to explore how to capitalize on the potential for energy savings and creating jobs. Eighteen residents representing the business community, government, and environmental sustainability advocates formed a steering committee to collaboratively develop a voluntary incentive based program to standardize and promote good practices in making area homes more energy efficient.

Program Details

The program provides a checklist that offers homeowners energy, water, and resource saving steps they can take to make their homes more efficient and reduce their green house gas (GHG) emissions. Three different levels of award certification are available to homeowners who take steps to “green” their homes and have these “steps” certified by a trained county inspector. In order to be certified, homeowners must calculate their reductions in GHG emissions, and the county tracks the resulting emissions reductions.

The program also serves as a consumer protection tool since county staff have found when inspecting retrofitted homes that some installations had not been done properly. In addition, all 14 building officials in the county have endorsed the program and helped to ensure that the recommended steps were consistent with local building and zoning codes.

The StepUp2Green program involves county building inspectors and also indirectly assists realtors and builders by helping residents who want to improve their home’s marketability when it is put up for sale.

Compiled May 2009

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

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