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County of San Mateo – Involving the Public in Climate Change Action

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Civic Engagement

By actively involving residents and businesses in developing climate change activities, San Mateo County has successfully promoted support for new programs and activities that individuals and businesses can embrace to reduce their carbon footprint.

Community:San Mateo County

Population: 712,690


San Mateo County has undertaken a variety of efforts to educate residents, local businesses and employees about climate change and green practices, including an educational website, a “green bag” lunch lecture series, and a green business certification program. It currently is seeking resident input on how to best promote solar and other renewable energy systems for local homes and businesses.

Program Highlights

  • The county’s Green Business program has certified over eighty businesses that receive special recognition and promotional materials.
  • The “Green Bag” lunch lecture series educates county residents and employees about topics such as new technologies for clean transportation.
  • The county’s Green Portal website includes information for individuals and businesses looking for ways to “go green”.

Lessons Learned

  • The broader consensus around the goal, the greater the potential that it will be successful by being accepted and implemented by the broader community.
  • Give people the opportunity to be involved around whatever aspect they feel most passionate.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

San Mateo County has undertaken a number of activities to educate and motivate individuals and businesses to take action to address climate change. A “Green Team” composed of county agency staff was formed to learn about climate change and sustainability issues from university professors and other experts.

Green Web-Portal, Green Bag Lecture Series, and Green Business Certification

The team has created a “Green Portal” website that includes a wealth of information for individuals and businesses looking for ways to “go green,” reduce waste and carbon emissions, and save money. The site has green tips that anyone can use, a guide to local green events, such as farmers markets, an earth day celebration, and a series of “green bag’ lunchtime lectures. Residents are encouraged to contact the Green Team with questions and comments though the Green Portal website.

The “Green Bag” lecture series began in January of 2009. So far, thirty to fifty residents have participated at each session and four or five hundred people are expected to participate in its first year. Speakers address subjects such as the impact of food choices on climate change, chemicals and climate change, and green building. The goal to help county residents understand the environmental consequences of their actions and to help them make choices that are more environmentally friendly.

The county has certified over eighty businesses in its green business program, which is supported by PG&E and uses standard forms available from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Participating businesses are rewarded with a sticker and other promotional materials, special listing on the ABAG and county websites, and recognition at special events.

In April 2009, the county initiated a “Solar Roundtable” group to explore how the county can promote the installation of solar and other renewable energy systems on homes and businesses in the unincorporated area.

Read other San Mateo County climate leadership case stories on Green Building and Efficient Transportation.

Compiled May 2009

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

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