Chula Vista's Green History
The City Of Chula Vista has embarked on a path of sustainable building development that is unique in our time. The purpose of this program is to advance the practices of energy conservation, “Green Building” and to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. While doing so the benefits of this endeavor will be shared by all those who live and work in the city. The scope of our plan may be new but the foundation of the work started over a decade ago.
In the spring of 1997 city staff applied for a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The eighty thousand dollar grant was awarded to Chula Vista to develop a plan that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from various sources within the City. The following research led to the Carbon Reduction Plan, which was adopted in late 2000. This plan outlined steps for Chula Vista to reduce energy consumption, promote alternative transportation and design transit-friendly, walkable communities. Included in that adoption was the “Greenstar” energy efficiency program. Both initiatives identified air quality standards and energy conservation measures which can be applied at the major project and sectional planning levels. This criterion became the Air Quality Improvement Plan (AQIP) whose guidelines for use in planning future projects were adopted by the City Council in mid 2003. Greenstar would serve as an implementation mechanism for the Building and Planning Departments to promote “Green” building practices for new residential construction. This accounts for 80% of development throughout the City.
Participation in the Greenstar program is a major component of the AQIP guidelines. Large projects can meet the AQIP requirement by agreeing to construct half of their structures to the Greenstar standards, 15% beyond the title 24 part 6 energy code requirements. Compliance with this program was encouraged through an expedited plan check and permitting process. Energy efficiency modeling of projects is the alternative method by which the goals of the Carbon Reduction Plan and the AQIP can be met. Since it’s adoption almost 7000 units have been built to these high efficiency and low air pollution standards.
Since the early 1990s, Chula Vista has been engaged in multiple climate change forums including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Council for Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, the Kyoto protocol and the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. The City has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or “carbon footprint” to 20% below 1990 levels. In 2005 our staff conducted a GHG emissions inventory to evaluate the City’s progress in reaching its emissions goals. The inventory indicated that Chula Vista’s annual citywide GHG levels had increased by 35% since 1990 due primarily to residential growth. During the same period, the City did make significant progress in reducing annual per capita emissions by 17% and avoiding nearly 200,000 tons of GHG emissions annually. In addition, GHG emissions from municipal sources decreased by 18% mainly due to traffic signal energy-efficiency improvements. As a result of the 2005 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, the City Council directed staff to convene a Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) to develop recommendations to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the City’s 2010 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The CCWG - comprised of residential, business and community-group representatives reviewed over 90 possible carbon-reducing measures from July 2007 through March 2008. The group evaluated these measures based on five primary criteria:
- The measure had been previously implemented successfully by an ICLEI local government or California Climate Action Registry business.
- The measure would be financially feasible (i.e. require little or no additional General Fund support).
- The measure could be quickly implemented to have immediate impact on the City’s efforts to reduce emissions by 2010
- The measure’s impacts could be quantified using the City’s emissions inventory protocol.
- The measure would not cause a significant adverse community impact.
From this analysis, the CCWG selected seven measures to recommend to City Council. Council adopted all the measures on April 1, 2008. They are:
- Require that 100% of the replacement vehicles purchased for the municipal fleet be high-efficiency (hybrid) or alternative fuel vehicles.
- Encourage City-contracted fleet operators to adopt the use of high-efficiency (hybrid) or alternative fuel vehicles, by stipulating that 100% of replacement vehicle purchases should be alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles.
- Require City of Chula Vista-licensed businesses to participate in an energy assessment of their physical premises every three years and upon change of ownership.
- Adopt community-wide green building standards that are comprehensive in coverage and mandatory. New and substantially remodeled structures will be required to be built to at least 15% over Title-24, part 6 baseline measures.
- Facilitate widespread installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on commercial, residential and municipal facilities by developing and implementing a solar energy conversion program. Initiate a Code change that requires pre- wiring for future Photovoltaic systems. Proactively enforce existing codes requiring pre-plumbing for solar hot water heating systems.
- Facilitate ”Smart Growth” around the H Street, E Street and Palomar Street Trolley Stations
- Coordinate with Otay Water District, San Diego County Water Authority and the Sweetwater Authority to convert turf lawns to Xeriscape.
Of these seven, measures #4 and part of #5 come under the pervue of the Planning and Building departments.