Green Communities

Program Overview

The Great Valley Center has been selected as a regional partner to help implement the Green Communities Program across the Central Valley. A collaborative effort between Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, and the Great Valley Center, Green Communities is intended to provide support to local governments and communities in pursuing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals. The program is funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Green Communities provides local governments with the tools to begin reducing GHG emissions in response to statewide policies and recommendations. As an added benefit, local governments that become more energy efficient tend to reduce operating costs associated with energy consumption. GHG emissions are pollutants which result from every-day activities, such as driving your car or heating and cooling your home. While your contribution may be small, the impacts on the environment may be harmful collectively. This is why the State of California has identified GHG emission reduction goals as a necessity to maintain the quality of life for future generations. Due to budget constraints, staff-size reduction, and lack of access to tools and resources, local governments in particular are in need of support to meet GHG reduction goals.

From 2010-2012, the GVC assisted twenty-four (24) local governments in the development of twenty-five (25) GHG Emissions Inventories, which help governments to assess their “carbon footprint” as a starting point for emission reduction. During this time, GVC staff and interns from local universities were sent to local governments to collect data, calculate the data into emission figures, and report the results back to the local governments. GVC staff and interns received excellent training by ICLEI representatives, who also provided the tools and software critical to the development of these inventories. By February 2014, GVC will complete an additional fifteen (15) emissions inventories.

Community-Wide Inventory Specialists hard at work at the GVC office. Back, left to right: Dylan Lem, Dmitri Medvedko and Joshua DuRousseau of UC Merced. Front, left to right: Grant Ivison-Lane (UC Merced) and Sean Isley (CSU Stanislaus)

In 2014, GVC will provide energy action planning assistance for 2-3 local jurisdictions. This will be an exciting time for the program as it moves from assessment to planning. Using assessments completed in previous rounds of the program, staff will engage municipal and community leaders, business groups and other stakeholders in a comprehensive planning process with the goal of establishing strategies to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, and spur the local economy. Please contact your local government officials and encourage them to sign up for this excellent opportunity.

An old proverb states, “You may give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, or you may teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime.” From our perspective, this proverb embodies the essence of the Green Communities Program: to provide local governments and communities with the tools they need to become leaders in climate action and energy efficiency.