Originally setting out to determine the viability of utility-sponsored crop switching to conserve energy and water resources, the Alliance found that active market-based crop switching already exists in California. Thus, the Alliance took the opportunity to identify other potential utility-sponsored program options that could benefit California growers. The most readily-available options appear to be greenhouse retrocommissioning and providing rebates for condensing boilers for soil warming. This report details these opportunities and others on the horizon.

In a time of unprecedented drought, it’s time to rethink how we design the landscaping around our buildings and homes. Landscapes account for more than half of building water use. The Alliance presented at the Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo on more efficient design of landscapes to not only reduce water use, but also decrease maintenance requirements and increase property value. This presentation discusses sustainable landscaping design, strategies, and resources for builders and building owners.

Existing building renovation offers an interesting challenge for implementing passive design solutions. While it often costs very little to incorporate passive design elements into a new building, it is more challenging and often more costly to incorporate these solutions into existing buildings. That being said, existing buildings offer the greatest opportunity for change. The Passive Design Guide for Existing Buildings offers a resource to building designers so they may better understand the opportunities and business case for low- and no-energy building renovation solutions. Focusing on solutions that are most likely to be usable for existing buildings in the Southern California climate, this design guide provides background information and tools for building designers to better incorporate passive design solutions into renovation projects.

The drought has spurred increasing interest in water conservation. Landscape irrigation presents ample opportunities for saving water and has the added benefit of saving energy. Water-efficient landscape design can create a healthy environment for vegetation by taking into account the water needs of the plants, the location’s climate, and irrigation design. This report provides basic information on landscape types and irrigation systems, the methodology for estimating weather-based irrigation needs, and a case study. The case study estimates the water, energy, and cost savings, as well as carbon sequestered, as a result of renovating a Glen Arbor Park in Murrieta, California to a water-efficient landscape design.

The Climate Action Fellows Pilot Report outlines a program for using area university students (as Climate Action Fellows) to cost-effectively add capacity to local government to address climate protection mandates, voluntary goals and commitments. The report outlines the goals and objectives of the program, describes the timeline and process of program implementation, and provides a case study in which the program was piloted with the City of Covina. This resource provides energy utility program managers and local government associations with a blueprint to implement the Climate Action Fellows Program Model on a broader scale.

The Water-Energy Program Collaboration Guidebook is a new resource for energy utilities and water agencies in California. It is a result of the 2013 Utility Sustainability Roundtable, where participants from utilities, water agencies, and cities expressed strong interest in a joint water-energy efficiency program collaboration guidebook to support and enhance coordinated efforts towards a sustainable water-energy nexus. This resource offers guidance and real-world examples within a detailed joint program development and implementation process, as well as top collaboration strategies and other insights.

On August 21, 2014 the California Sustainability Alliance held a forum for the Southern California Gas Company (SCG)’s greenhouse, floriculture and horticulture customers in Tulare, CA. Twenty-three participants from twelve growing or post-harvest operations and four agricultural associations took part in the forum. The half-day forum agenda included a presentation by a soil scientist on Benchmarking irritation and best practices at Grimmway Farms and Paramount Citrus as well as a break-out sessions with the participants The primary goal of the forum was to “listen” to the growers, A) Determine what is their current level of use and acceptance of energy efficient practices, especially in relation to water usage, B) To assess what are their needs and opportunities that could be addressed by SCG. In September 2014, the Alliance completed a report entitled Sustainability Forum for Southern Central Valley Agricultural Growers and Post-Harvest Processors that documents presentations, discussion and general conclusions of the forum.

The drought has spurred increasing interest in the water-energy nexus. Industrial facilities present concentrated opportunities for savings in both energy and water. One of these opportunities lies in recycling hot water on site. By recycling hot water, water is saved and the gas used to heat make-up water is saved. When both of these savings are accounted for in determining cost-effectiveness, on-site water recycling becomes more attractive to industrial customers. This report outlines technical, economic, and communication barriers to recycling hot water, revealed through vendor interviews. 

The Cap-and-Trade market has added a new dynamic to California’s greenhouse gas regulations. Utilities are faced with finding cost-effective ways to comply with their emissions reductions requirements. Energy efficiency at the local government level presents a large opportunity for saving energy that is currently not incentivized by the Cap-and-Trade system. Nevertheless, the emissions reductions resulting from saved energy can be valued against the cost of compliance instruments, which are projected to increase in price over time. This whitepaper presents a new framework under which local governments could partner with their load-serving utilities to move cost-effective energy efficiency projects forward.

The path to sustainability is difficult. Collaboration and joint efforts can help ease our journey. To this end, leaders from water and energy utilities as well as representatives from local governments of Southern California joined the Alliance for a roundtable discussion on opportunities to support each other in their efforts to promote energy and water efficiency. The 2013 Utility Sustainability Roundtable, the fourth such event, was held in September. This document summarizes the participants’ conversations, which centered around three main topics: The Water-Energy Nexus, Aligning City Planning and Utility Incentive Cycles, and Cap-and-Trade.