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Renewable Energy & Low-Carbon Fuels

Sustainability Best Practice Area

Local agencies can install renewable energy technology at agency facilities and promote its use in the community. Local agencies can also reduce the use of petroleum by using fuel efficient and fuel alternative vehicles.


Solar Projects

  • Replace traditional pedestrian “walk” signals and safety lights with solar powered signals.
  • Install solar powered smart parking meters in downtown areas.
  • Adopt a “Solar Ready” policy requiring new agency buildings to be pre-wired and pre-plumbed for solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. (Required January 2014 as part of the California Green Building Code.)
  • Purchase solar photovoltaic systems or enter into power purchase agreements (PPA) to meet all or part of the electrical energy requirements of buildings and facilities owned, leased, or operated by the agency.

Methane Recovery Programs and Projects

  • For jurisdictions that own or operate landfills, recover and use the maximum feasible amount of methane gas from the landfill to produce electricity, fuel co-generation facilities, and/or produce compressed natural gas for use in alternative fuel vehicles.
  • For jurisdictions that host landfills owned by private companies or other public agencies, enter into partnerships or agreements with agencies or companies that own or operate landfills to ensure that the maximum feasible amount of methane is recovered for waste-to-energy or other renewable energy projects
  • Install digesters and other technologies at wastewater treatment facilities to produce methane and other bio-fuels.
  • Install fuel cells to generate power for wastewater treatment plants.

Fuel Efficient and Alternative Fuel Vehicles

  • Implement a bike sharing program for agency employees traveling between agency facilities.
  • Install bicycle racks, showers, and other amenities at agency facilities to promote bicycle use by agency employees and visitors.
  • Establish and implement a policy to convert agency fleets, including agency owned, leased or operated vehicles, to alternative or fuel efficient vehicles.
  • Establish and implement a policy to purchase new alternative or fuel efficient vehicles for agency operated transit systems.
  • Use regional purchasing options or the California Department of General Services bulk purchasing program to buy green fleet vehicles from local auto dealers.
  • Train agency fleet mechanics to service alternative and fuel efficient vehicles.


Solar and Small Wind Projects

  • Develop a map that residents can access online that identifies where solar projects are located in the community.
  • Conduct renewable energy workshops for residential, commercial and industrial property owners.
  • Offer workshops and information for residents and businesses to provide resources and permitting assistance for those interested in exploring adding renewable energy systems to their properties.
  • Provide information on agency website about the California Solar Initiative rebate and other renewable energy incentive programs.
  • Work with solar photovoltaic system providers to establish a discounted bulk purchasing program for residents and businesses that wish to purchase and install solar photovoltaic systems on their buildings.
  • Offer financial incentives to those who install solar photovoltaic or hot water systems on homes or businesses.
  • Adopt a renewable energy financing program, such as through a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing district, to help homeowners, multi-family dwellings and businesses install solar photovoltaic and hot water systems on existing residential and commercial buildings.
  • Adopt policy or program that offers incentives, such as streamlined permitting system or fee waivers, to encourage installation of photovoltaic systems on new or existing residential and commercial buildings.
  • Adopt a “Solar Ready” ordinance requiring new residential or commercial construction to be pre-wired and pre-plumbed for solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. (Required January 2014 as part of the California Green Building Standards Code.
  • Adopt an ordinance for small wind energy systems for residential and commercial installations.
  • Adopt a solar photovoltaic system siting ordinance for systems proposed on agricultural and open space lands.

Fuel Efficient and Alternative Fuel Vehicles

  • Work with electric utility to develop and implement electric vehicle charging infrastructure plan for the community.
  • Develop permitting standards for installation of electric vehicle charging stations at residential and commercial buildings.
  • Streamline the permitting process for installing home or business electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Install electric vehicle charging stations at public facilities, such as at parking lots and airports, for community use.
  • Allow the public to use agency facilities that support use of alternate fuel vehicles, such as compressed natural gas fueling facilities and electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Require new commercial developments to include electric vehicle charging stations in parking lots or garages.
The Institute gratefully acknowledges the following individuals who reviewed this best practice area and offered their comments:
  • Aaron Klemm, Energy Project Manager, City of Huntington Beach
  • Jillian Rich, Program Manager, Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Tenaya Asan, Green Point Rated Program Manager, Build it Green

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