Informational Resources and Guides

Informational Resources and Guides
Tools and Calculators
Grants and Funding Programs

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA offers a Green Communities Toolkit to help local governments plan more sustainable communities. Additionally the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program offers direct technical assistance to communities from a team of national experts in one of two areas: policy analysis (such as reviewing state and local codes, transportation policies, and zoning) or public participatory processes (such as visioning, design workshops, and alternative analysis.) Other Smart Growth Resources are available from the EPA.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) operates most of DOE’s sustainability programs. EERE invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The Solar America Cities program provides a guide book that introduces a range of policy and program options that can help local governments build a sustainable local solar infrastructure and market. The Clean Cities program providing access to information and incentives from federal agencies and industry partners for high-impact projects.

Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

CalRecycle is a new department within the California Natural Resources Agency and administers California’s recycling and waste reduction efforts. CalRecycle offers several grant programs to assist local governments. The Reuse Assistance Grant Program promote the reuse of nonhazardous materials, the most recent funding cycle has yet to start. The Beverage Container Recycling Grant Program offers funding to municipalities to increase recycling in the community; however, funding has been postponed until further notice.
StopWaste.Org provides tools and information for local governments to reduce waste in their communities. The site includes policy tools and model ordinances for recycling and waste management and information on developing environmentally preferred purchasing programs.
California Department of Conservation
The California Farmland Conservancy Program seeks to encourage the long-term, private stewardship of agricultural lands through the voluntary use of agricultural conservation easements. The program provides grant funding for projects which use and support agricultural conservation easements for protection of agricultural lands.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The mission of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities is to create strong, sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and helping to build a clean energy economy. Community Development Block Grant Program from HUD offer funding to create affordable housing for low-income households and encourages the use of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly designs through this program. Sustainable Communities Planning Grants are also available though it’s Sustainable Housing and Communities Program.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

The FTA provides resources on sustainable communities and Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Resources include access to TOD Resources and Training free of charge to local government employees. The FTA’s Livable and Sustainable Communities program supports initiatives that demonstrate ways to improve the link between public transit and communities. FTA’s Livability Grant Program offers funding to communities for the opportunity to create these accessible, livable, and sustainable communities.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)
The Strategic Incentives Division (SID) provides incentive funding for projects that improve air quality, reduce air quality health impacts and protect global climate. SID concentrates primarily on the reduction of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Funding is primarily focused on mobile source projects that reduce or eliminate pollution from cars, trucks, marine vessels, locomotives, agricultural equipment, construction equipment and for projects that encourage the use of low emissions or zero emissions transportation such as shuttles and ride sharing, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths. Funding is generally available through 11 program areas, though most new funding cycles are coming to a close at this time. New funding cycled will be posted as they open.
California Air Resources Board (ARB)
Since its formation the ARB has worked with the public, the business sector, and local governments to protect the public's health, the economy and the state's ecological resources through the most cost-effective reduction of air pollution.
  • Cool California - Provide all Californians with the tools they need to take action to protect the climate. Provides a Local Government Toolkit to help cities and counties save money and protect the climate. The toolkit includes information on Cost Saving Actions, Financial Resources, Carbon Footprint Calculators, and Success Stories.
  • Local Government Operations Protocol (LGOP) - Enable local governments to develop emissions inventories following internationally recognized GHG accounting and reporting principles defined below with attention to the unique context of local government operations.
Institute for Local Government (ILG)
The ILG provides information skills and resources to the entire range of city and county officials so that local governments can be more effective and develop stronger communities. The ILG manages the California Climate Action Network (CCAN) to help cities and counties play a leadership role in responding to the challenges of climate change. CCAN provides such as a sample climate-friendly purchasing policy, climate action white papers that provide overviews to local government employees, and a list of best practices for local government climate action.
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, water, and transit companies in California to ensure the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure. Two of the CPUC’s programs offer significant funding opportunities for local government sustainability efforts.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing
California allows local governments to set up loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements to be paid back through property tax payments over a 20-year period. The loans carry a fixed interest rate and stay with the property, if the tenant or owner moves, the next tenant or owner continues to pay for the loan through property taxes. The DOE offers a guide for local governments on PACE financing. Read about the City of Berkeley’s program, the first city to offer PACE programs.
Local Government Commission (LGC)
The Local Government Commission assists local governments in establishing and nurturing the key elements of livable communities. The LGC provides customized technical assistance to communities through contract planning and design services. The LGC can assist in planning, public participation, visioning, renewable energy resources and development of livable communities. LGC provides a bi-monthly energy issues newsletter providing local elected officials and staff with current information on energy issues affecting California local governments. The First Stop Shop for Water Resources provides information and resources related to the co-management of land and water resources.
Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
ICLEI is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development. ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. While most materials and tools require membership, some resources are provided free of charge including portions of its Sustainability Planning Toolkit. In early 2010 ICLEI launched its Star Community Index program. The program is modeled after LEED to provide means by which local governments can measure and “certify” their sustainability achievements.
California Sustainability Alliance (CSA)
The California Sustainability Alliance has developed the Green General Plan Toolkit to aid local governments in planning for a sustainable future that reflects their communities’ unique mix of local resources, assets, and challenges.
Local Water Agencies
Most local water agencies provide tips on water conservation and rebates for water saving technologies. While rebates vary across each water agency, local governments can take advantage of many of these programs including incentives for installing low flow toilets and efficient landscape irrigation systems. Check with your local water utility as each is different. Some examples of conservation programs include those run by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and East Bay Municipal Utility District. Some water agencies also provide recycled water to customers as a more sustainable way to supply non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation. Recycled water often costs less than drinking water saving money while providing a sustainable supply. Contact your local water agency to see if they provide recycled water.
California Energy Commission (CEC)
The CEC operates the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), which includes a Step-by-Step Guide for Local Governments on how to “Go Solar”. The guide includes model ordinances and model resolutions that local governments can use encourage community adoption of solar and energy efficiency.
California Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs)

California IOU’s are required by the California Public Utilities Commission to offer energy efficiency programs to their customers. Each IOU program is unique; generally the programs offer rebates, financing assistance, design assistance, educational seminars, and other forms of assistance.  Rebates are typically a set amount of financial assistance for a specific energy efficiency technology though most utilities also offer custom rebate programs that are more flexible. Learn more about each IOU’s assistance directed at Local Governments by clicking on the links below for your energy service provider(s).

Some energy utilities offer On-Bill Financing (OBF) in conjunction to their incentive programs. OBF offers eligible customers (including local governments) zero-percent financing for qualifying energy-efficiency improvements. The loan payments are made to the energy utility and appear as additional charges on each facility’s utility bill. Examples of OBF programs include those offered by Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas and Electric (both allow up to $250,000 per facility).

If your community is not served by one of the IOU’s listed above, contact your energy service provider for more information on their energy efficiency programs and On-Bill Financing.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE)
AWE is a stakeholder-based non-profit organization dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water. AWE serves as a North American advocate for water efficient products and programs, and provides information and assistance on water conservation efforts. AWE’s resource library includes a section on Water Efficiency in Government Buildings and Public Facilities which comprehensively details water saving opportunities. In addition to identifying the opportunities, AWE details key factors to consider when implementing each action. Opportunities for water savings discussed include toilets and urinals, faucets, irrigation, cooling towers, recycled water, stormwater collection, and more.