What is it?
The California Energy Commission has recently released the 2011 Energy Aware Planning Guide, an update to a 1993 version. The guide is geared towards local governments and planning organizations including cities, counties, and regional transportation districts or any other local entity that influences energy usage in buildings, land use, transportation, water delivery and waste processing. The guide’s goal is to provide technical information to local governments seeking to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance renewable sources of energy.
Why is it Important?
Recent California legislation – the Global Warming Solutions Act and the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act 375 – are starting to impact energy usage in California and local governments play a big role in influencing energy demand. Examples include local government’s influence on building code enforcement, land use planning, public transit and sometimes local governments run an electric and/or gas utility. This is in addition to the local governments own energy usage. The Guide provides processes, tools and templates to help local government’s make strategic energy plans and implement them.
How is it Helpful?
The Guide starts with a systematic process for creating an Energy Action Plan to inventory sources and uses of energy and identify opportunities for improvement. The Guide then presents many strategies to reduce energy use. Ideas include parking supply management, ridesharing, planting shade trees, implementing solar energy and water reuse and recycling. The Guide then ends with metrics and guidelines for quantifying the impact of the recommended strategies. All of these ideas and examples can save a local government time and effort – generally in short supply during this era of budget deficits - in reducing energy usage for its own operations and its residents and businesses.