The County has a key role to play in climate change issues on every level, from flood and fire risk management to sea-level rise adaptation to aggressively scaling down our local carbon emissions. Many of these issues hit too close to home for neighborhoods of District 1. As part of the Board of Supervisors Climate Action Plan (CAP) sub-committee, I've spearheaded the implementation of the CAP, including securing budget funding and making climate change a key policy priority for the County.
Marin County Climate Action Plan
Marin was one of the first counties in California to take formal action to address greenhouse gas emissions 15 years ago, and it adopted a Climate Action Plan update in 2015 to provide more aggressive goals on emission reductions.
Since the beginning of the effort, the County has:
- encouraged the use of energy from renewable sources;
- supported power-saving efficiency programs;
- promoted carbon-reducing agricultural practices;
- supported alternative transportation programs;
- promoted waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs, and;
- pushed for water conservation.
The initiatives are working. The County is 24% below its 2005 greenhouse gas emission levels.
On December 8, 2020, the Board of Supervisors approved an updated CAP, setting a course for the County to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in unincorporated Marin County. We set a goal of reducing emissions 60% below 2005 levels by 2030 and set a target of net-zero emissions by 2045. The plan captures state actions, emission reduction strategies, social equity, transportation, electrification, energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, agriculture, working land use, community adaptation, resiliency, engagement, empowerment, and more. I am excited that we met our 2020 goals early, and am committed to doing much more.
In October of 2017, we implemented Drawdown: Marin, a bold community-driven initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change impacts. With the support and input from the entire community, the County is working to "drawdown" carbon emissions and achieve a climate-resilient future. Drawdown: Marin seeks to engage and empower community members to share their priorities and local solutions to climate change. These solutions are policies, programs, and projects that can be implemented at a local level. To accomplish this, Drawdown: Marin aims to coordinate and collaborate with all Marin County cities and towns, organizations, individuals, grant makers, businesses, and government on a countywide strategy to achieve progress on a complex, large-scale challenge and achieve the Drawdown: Marin goals. We recently completed a two-year process and worked with over 150 volunteers to identify 29 climate change solutions.
Stakeholder collaboratives recommended priority solutions with metrics in six focus areas: 100% renewable energy, low carbon transportation, energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure, local food and food waste, carbon sequestration, and climate-resilient communities.
The Drawdown: Marin Strategic Plan summarizes all 29 solutions, necessary equity work and initiatives, community empowerment and engagement priorities, and governance and funding frameworks and needs for 2021-2030. It is available for viewing and download at www.drawdownmarin.org.
The Executive Steering Committee endorsed the following solutions for implementation:
- Marin Carbon Farming Initiative
- Zero Emission Vehicles - Drive Clean Bay Area
- Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) – Center for Food & Agriculture
- Microgrids – Fairfax Pavilion Pilot Project
- Community Resilience Hubs
- Biomass Study/Recovery Pathways
Drawdown:Marin was awarded a $126,451 grant from the Marin Community Foundation to implement a community-based organization-designed process to more deeply engage communities of color in the Drawdown effort. The grant funded: A Civic Spark Fellow to engaging closely with various communities; storytelling training for community ambassadors; and a stipend for community ambassadors who are engaging with their neighbors and friends on climate change generally and Drawdown: Marin. My Aide, Mary, is chairing the Drawdown:Marin Equity Task Force, which meets monthly with a focus on ensuring Drawdown:Marin is attentive to social and human sustainability. Learn more about the equity task force on this web page.
In 2021 Drawdown:Marin is slated to become a nonprofit organization. This new nonprofit will partner with the County to effectively implement the Drawdown: Marin Strategic Plan.
We’ve formed a working group made up of Drawdown: Marin Executive Steering Committee members and a member of our Equity Task Force. They will assist County Staff to develop necessary documents and those documents will be posted for public review. Visit our Nonprofit Working Group page for important dates and opportunities to engage in our process. We hope to have the nonprofit formed by summer 2021.
Resilient Neighborhoods - Climate Preparedness and Reduction (CPR) for the Planet
I led the first Resilient Neighborhoods team at the Civic Center, setting an example of reducing our carbon footprint through individual action. Since then, we have launched a Resilient Offices program, allowing employees to reduce their carbon footprint at home and work. Take a look at how you can help to reduce your carbon footprint.
Sea Level Rise Litigation
In 2020, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz Counties, with Richmond and Imperial Beach Cities, reached an important milestone in the suit against big oil companies. Companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, and others promoted petroleum consumption as environmentally responsible while knowing that it causes harm. In a significant step forward, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state courts, not federal courts, are the appropriate arbiters. We will continue to move forward strategically in the coming years when the case will go before a jury. You can learn more about The ruling in this Marin IJ article and background in this Marin IJ article.
Board Takes Steps to Protect Coastline From Oil and Gas Drilling
I am pleased to report that on August 25, 2020 the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance for certain facilities supporting offshore oil and gas exploration and development. The ordinance creates a voter-approved mechanism for any future development of onshore facilities supporting offshore oil and gas exploration. The ordinance seeks to protect Marin's coastline, inlets, and bays – and therefore also its agricultural lands, tourism, air quality, recreation, biodiversity, and quality of life. The action responds to what the County believes is an increased threat to locate these types of facilities in Marin and would align it with counties up and down California's coastline.
MCE Clean Energy
As past President and a founding Board Member of Marin Clean Energy, I continue to promote both MCE Clean Energy and its innovative energy programs to keep Marin at the forefront of smart, clean energy and energy efficiency. I am proud to say that The County of Marin is 100% Deep Green for all its government accounts through MCE Clean Energy. Will you join me and "Opt Up to 100% Deep Green"?
MCE is also focused on funding local resiliency efforts. Some examples of MCE's resiliency partnerships include working with community-based and government organizations such as the offices of Health & Human Services, Office of Emergency Services, and Centers for Independent Living – all valuable partners helping to identify individuals who would most benefit from access to clean energy backup power resources in the event of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event or other power outage. Learn more about MCE’s new Energy Storage Program, providing much-needed services to our most vulnerable populations.
A group of local policy leaders has formed an Ad hoc Green Microgrid Solutions Policy Makers Group. We meet regularly with subject matter experts to support and encourage green microgrid projects in Marin. This is a topic that has attracted a lot of interest and offers a path to meeting our climate and resiliency goals.
We know that during Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events, keeping critical infrastructure online ensures that a reliable, resilient emergency facility is available for those who may need it most. The County, with support of incentives from MCE and the CPUC is adding a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to the existing solar panels at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall. The Exhibit Hall served as an evacuation site during the 2019 Kincade fire, a cooling center during heat waves, and a vaccination center for COVID-19. Reliable, consistent back-up power is critical. We are thrilled to be the first municipal project to move forward under MCE’s Resiliency Program.
You can learn more about the project in this Marin IJ article and the staff report for September 14, 2021, item 7.
Public EV Charging Stations.
As of February of 2020, 66 publicly available Level 2 EV charging ports have been installed by the County at the Civic Center, 1600 Los Gamos, and the County garage. There were more than 7,000 EVs in Marin in 2019, representing almost 4% of registered automobiles. The County is committed to making new vehicle purchases EVs where possible.
Electrifying County Vehicles
The County adopted a resolution aligning the County's vehicle purchasing policies with State of California policies regarding emission standards. With a fleet of 482 vehicles, the County is replacing approximately 30 per year by purchase, with a vehicle purchasing policy of replacing inefficient gas-powered vehicles with eco-friendly alternatives whenever possible to further the County's sustainability commitment. This effort began in 2002 with the purchase of one hybrid. Today the County has 78 hybrid vehicles and nine all-electric vehicles (EVs) comprising 20% of the fleet. In December of 2019 the County adopted the State's two new fleet purchasing policies, namely:
(1) A prohibition on purchasing any sedans solely powered by an internal combustion engine, with exemptions for certain public safety vehicles.
(2) The County is only purchasing vehicles from manufacturers that recognize the California Air Resources Board (CARB) 's authority to set greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle standards and that have committed to continuing stringent emissions reduction goals for their fleets.
Rebates for Replacement of Natural Gas Appliances
The County of Marin offers rebates for the replacement of natural gas appliances with efficient all-electric units, including water heaters, furnaces, ranges, and cooktops. Replacing natural gas appliances with electric models will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, and contribute to a safer and healthier home. This program is available to single-family homeowners in all areas of Marin County. Check out the Electrify Marin website.
Standard rebates range from $250 to $1,000 per replaced gas appliance, with higher rates up to $4,500 available for income-qualified applicants. Rebates apply for qualifying heat pump water heaters, central air source heat pumps, mini-split heat pumps (ductless or ducted), induction ranges, and induction cooktops. For projects where installing a new electric appliance would require an upgrade to the existing electric service panel, supplemental rebates are available to offset the cost of the additional capacity. Additional rebates for your project may be available through the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), so please visit www.marincounty.org/electrify to learn more and contact the County's Sustainability. QUESTIONS? Tel: (415) 473-3069 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Building Requirements
On March 13, 2018, the County adopted a new Green Building ordinance, which was subsequently superseded by the California Building Standards Code that went into effect on January 1, 2020. The standards, which apply to new construction, additions, and remodels in the unincorporated County, are a way for the County to implement its Climate Action Plan.
In 2020, the Green Building program adopted a EV permit streamlining ordinance. All Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) projects in Marin are eligible for expedited permitting by completing and submitting the form below with your permit application. Single-family residences seeking to install EVSE can skip this process altogether – you only need to apply for an electrical permit that can be done electronically via Online Permits.
For more information on Marin County's Green Building Program or green building technical assistance on any building project in Marin, contact Dana Armanino via email or by phone at (415) 473-3292. Please visit the Green Building Program website for more information.
Green Concrete Ordinance
Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world and the source of up to 10% of human-created carbon dioxide emissions. The Board of Supervisors approved the addition of language in the Marin County Code that minimizes the use of cement, the powdery glue that holds concrete together. The Code encourages supplementary cementitious materials that cost about the same as cement and are considered equally effective in making sturdy concrete but with lower emissions. The ordinance applies to permitted building activities and public projects developed by the County of Marin. The low-emission concrete ordinance was designed to serve as a model code language for other local governments. You can learn more about this program on the Bay Area Low-Carbon Concrete Codes Project page and through the presentation to the Climate Protection Committee.