Mayor Steinberg calls for all renewable energy for city buildings as part of climate push
Aug 29, 2022 - 04:41 AM
Mayor Darrell Steinberg was joined by councilmembers Katie Valenzuela and Mai Vang to highlight their support for accelerating the city’s climate actions through initiatives like SMUD’s Greenergy program. Greenergy allows customers to opt into a 100% carbon-free electricity in advance of SMUD’s 2030 Carbon Zero goal.
“We can find a million dollars to ensure that we are 100% renewable for city owned and operated buildings and that is what we must do,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
The City of Sacramento owns more than 400 buildings spanning 4.7 million square feet. Obtaining the electricity for these buildings from Greenergy would eliminate approximately 22 percent of current municipal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In combination with other measures proposed for the city’s upcoming Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, using Greenergy would play a crucial role in cutting the city’s municipal GHG emissions by more than 80 percent by 2030. City staff is working through this proposal and will report back in the coming months.
The Greenergy proposal is one of a suite of potential climate actions coming to City Council during a climate workshop scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16. City staff will highlight Sacramento’s quarterly progress in meeting the climate challenge and hold a workshop on creative opportunities to speed the city’s achievement of carbon neutrality. The city will also be receiving two climate leadership awards from the Institute for Local Government which be presented to council at a later date and time.
The 2022 Beacon Leadership and Innovation Award recognizes the Mayors’ Commission on Climate change as a model for collaborative, inclusive, and equitable climate resilience. The 2022 Beacon Spotlight Award recognizes voluntary action by local governments in California to address climate change, promote energy innovation, and create more sustainable communities. The City of Sacramento is receiving the Platinum Level Spotlight award for reducing municipal natural gas use by 41 percent. From 2005 to 2019, natural gas use was reduced by 366,000 Therms through retrofits of municipal buildings.
The council workshop will also include an overview of the preliminary draft of Sacramento’s Climate Action Plan. The draft plan was released on July 1, 2022, for public review, and the complete Climate Action and Adaptation Plan will be available for review in late fall of this year and scheduled for adoption in early 2023.
The city is not waiting on the CAAP to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sacramento continues to leverage land use policies to advance housing and climate goals. Sacramento was the first City in California to earn the state’s ProHousing designation due to the city’s many policies that encourage the construction of new infill housing in existing neighborhoods, including streamlined approvals for accessory dwelling units, zero impact fees for affordable housing, residential housing by right in commercial zones and the reduction or elimination of parking requirements for new housing. Sacramento has seen a 123% increase in the construction of ADUs since implementing these policies.
Sacramento was awarded $60,000 to electrify two homes in partnership with the Housing Anti-Displacement Program and is pursuing an additional $350,000 to electrify 25 homes with SMUD. By pairing climate goals with affordable housing, one all-electric affordable housing project is complete, with five more currently under construction.
“Equity is something that is essential to the work that we all do here at the city and is something that is going to be at the center and my focus going forward,” said Councilmember Mai Vang.
Initiatives such as the New Building Electrification Ordinance are well underway and include a multilingual outreach effort to engage with community members and design an equitable process to help electrify existing buildings. This strategy will offer a long-term plan to support residents and businesses in their transition to electric appliances over the next 23 years.
Council will also hear a proposal to incorporate greenhouse gas reduction as a criterion for city grant programs. Incorporating climate outcomes into any grant awards could help staff balance and prioritize projects that advance multiple goals.
“What I’m talking about is moving away from the siloed approach that we traditionally approach policy, to a very integrated approach, where we’re talking about water efficiency, energy efficiency, getting out natural gas appliances, and improving resiliency and reducing energy cost burden on the communities that need it the most so that we ensure nobody is left behind,” said Councilmember Katie Valenzuela.