Climate Action and Resiliency

Make Sonoma County carbon neutral by 2030.

Why is Climate Action and Resiliency a Strategic Plan Pillar?

Sonoma County, the nation and the world’s collective social, economic and environmental well-being are impacted by significant climate change events.

Providing a focus on climate action and resiliency in the Strategic Plan, the Board of Supervisors can mobilize countywide efforts towards mitigating and preventing climate change. In parallel with preparedness, adaptation and resiliency, the organization and the community will survive and thrive.

Why Focus on Climate Action and Resiliency?

With the devastating health and economic consequences of climate change growing here and elsewhere, Sonoma County must act urgently. Guided by science, and in concert with the state, national and international communities, we can provide a livable climate for today’s youth and future generations.

Since 2013, the County has experienced severe droughts, devastating fires, continued floods and hotter temperatures year over year. Each of these unprecedented events is a reminder of the immediate impact of climate change. It is only in working to prevent and mitigate climate change we will avert the worst impacts of the climate emergency and build a stronger, healthier, fairer, and resilient Sonoma community for everyone.

Climate Action and Resiliency Work at the County

Over the last 15 years, County staff have been working on climate actions with incremental progress in certain sectors. The County recognizes continued and focused efforts in climate change prevention, coupled with mitigation and adaption through behavioral change and resiliency efforts is imperative.

In February 2020, the Board of Supervisors created a Climate Ad Hoc committee to begin identifying the immediate, mid-range and long-term climate actions of the County.

 

  • Goal 1
  • Goal 2
  • Goal 3
  • Goal 4
  • Goal 5

Climate Action and Resiliency: Goal 1 

Continue to invest in wildfire preparedness and resiliency strategies.

Objective 1:

Provide educational resources to the community that promote and facilitate carbon neutral and fire hardening construction for new and existing homes.

The Energy and Sustainability Division and Permit Sonoma will continue to provide workshops, handouts and other educational and outreach resources for carbon neutral, resiliency and fire hardening construction for new and existing homes for landowners to support them in mitigating climate and fire risk. Funding from potential FEMA grants will likely increase this effort significantly in the years to come.

Objective 2:

Expand outreach and education on vegetation management and provide additional resources to land owners to help mitigate fire risk.

Sonoma County Ag + Open Space, Permit Sonoma, and UC Cooperative Extension will co-lead an effort to develop and implement an array of well-defined and easily-understood resources and programs for landowners to support them in mitigating fire risk. Funding from potential FEMA grants will likely increase this effort significantly in the years to come.

Objective 3:

Leverage grant funding to support sustainable vegetation management program.

Sonoma County Ag + Open Space, Permit Sonoma, and the CAO will co-lead an effort to leverage grant funding to support sustainable vegetation management programs. Ag + Open Space has hired a Vegetation Management Coordinator that will lead the effort to further leverage veg management funds to reduce wildfire risks. The Veg Management Coordinator will identify and pursue outside funding consistent with the Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment report.

Climate Action and Resiliency: Goal 2 

Invest in the community to enhance resiliency and become carbon neutral by 2030

Objective 1:

Support carbon eliminating microgrid technology in communities and energy grid resilience to reduce impact of power loss during power shutdowns and natural disasters (floods, fires, earthquakes) through education and legislative advocacy, prioritizing critical infrastructure and vulnerable populations.

Energy and Sustainability has joined 2 working groups related to community microgrids (MG) and is working to become familiar with the intricacies that surround MG initiatives and to better understand what is necessary for a MG to happen on a community scale. There may be legislative efforts to support or sponsor legislation and/or comments in regulatory rulemaking or hearings.

Objective 2:

Provide $20 million in financing by 2026 that incentivizes property managers and renters to retrofit existing multi-family housing towards achieving carbon neutral buildings.

This objective will be achieved through outreach efforts, collaboration and leveraging of multiple programs offered through the Energy and Sustainability Division. These programs will offer combined financing, incentives and rebates to property managers or renters for affordable improvements or retrofits. The Division will also look to leverage any other resources related to multi-family improvements.

Objective 3:

Partner with educational institutions, trade associations, businesses and non-profit organizations to establish workforce development programs that focus on carbon neutral and resilient building technologies by 2023.

HSD is actively scanning for information about upcoming funding opportunities and is well poised to work collaboratively with members of the Workforce Investment Board representing a myriad of building and trade unions, higher education and the Economic Development Board to put forward funding applications.

Climate Action and Resiliency: Goal 3 

Make all County facilities carbon free, zero waste and resilient.

Objective 1:

Design or retrofit County facilities to be carbon neutral, zero waste and incorporate resilient construction techniques and materials.

All capital improvement projects within County government buildings (whether new construction or renovation) are permitted by Permit Sonoma and must be consistent with sustainable building code requirements. The new County Government Center buildings will incorporate carbon neutral and zero waste designs.

Objective 2:

Design or retrofit County facilities that promote and maximize telework to decrease greenhouse gas emissions generated by employee commutes.

Space planning and design efforts will support a hybrid workplace. “Workplace engagement” will identify a range of solutions to match the different on-site/remote patterns of staff. This process will include employee satisfaction surveys both before, during, and after design to provide benchmarks, confirm accommodation, validate goals, and measure improvements. There will also be the further refinement of the County’s Telework Policies, as necessary.

Objective 3:

Invest in County owned facilities, establishing carbon eliminating microgrid technology and improving energy grid resilience to reduce the impact of power loss during power shutdowns and natural disasters (floods, fires, earthquakes), prioritizing critical infrastructure such as command and communications facilities.

The major activities, projects, and efforts that GS plans undertake to achieve this objective are: Energy Master Plan, County Campus Microgrid, Los Guilicos Campus Microgrid, New County Government Center, Airport Photovoltaic Canopy project, and Individual Investment Grade Audits under PG&E’s Sustainable Solutions Turnkey program.

Climate Action and Resiliency: Goal 4 

Maximize sustainability and emissions reductions in all County Fleet vehicles.

Objective 1:

Where feasible, phase out County (owned or leased) gasoline powered light-duty cars, vans, and pickups to achieve a 30% zero-emission vehicle light-duty fleet by 2026.

Fleet Operation’s approach to implementation will ultimately maximize sustainability and emissions reductions by moving towards replacing carbon producing fleet vehicles with zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs), and facilitating their operations by upgrading and expanding charging infrastructure.

Objective 2:

Invest in the County’s employee Clean Commute program to promote use of alternate modes of transportation, including bike and carpool incentives, and last mile solutions connecting bus and train stations to County worksites.

Based on findings from the 2020 Employee Commute Survey, there are three effective ways we can invest in the County’s Clean Commute program: pilot a Clean Commute Incentive Program, improve bus service to County worksites, and improve last mile connections between transit centers and County worksites. Staff is evaluating program and project options in line with these.

Objective 3:

Upgrade the existing County owned Electric Vehicle charging station infrastructure by 2023.

Fleet Operation’s approach to implementation will ultimately maximize sustainability and emissions reductions by moving towards replacing carbon producing fleet vehicles with zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs), and facilitating their operations by upgrading and expanding charging infrastructure.

Climate Action and Resiliency: Goal 5 

Maximize opportunities for mitigation of climate change and adaptation through land conservation work and land use policies.

Objective 1:

By 2025, update the County General Plan and other county/special district planning documents to incorporate policy language and identify areas within the County that have the potential to maximize carbon sequestration and provide opportunities for climate change adaptation. The focus of these actions will be to increase overall landscape and species resiliency, reduce the risk of fire and floods, and address sea level rise and biodiversity loss.

First staff must develop County-scaled carbon emissions models with agreed baselines as well as landscape models for carbon sequestration potential. Then, the implementation plan for this objective will require staff to identify and map landscapes that will maximize carbon sequestration opportunities, develop policies to implement the identified opportunities, develop climate change mitigation policies, and identify opportunities for implementation of projects.

Objective 2:

Develop policies to maximize carbon sequestration and minimize loss of natural carbon sinks including old growth forests, the Laguna de Santa Rosa, and rangelands. Encourage agricultural and open space land management to maximize sequestration. Develop a framework and policies to incentivize collaboration with private and public land owners.

Using the Vital Lands Initiative as a guiding document, Sonoma County Ag + Open Space will lead an effort to set ambitious and specific targets for the amount and type of lands needed to be conserved to be resilient to climate change. This effort will also include tools and approaches that encourage and incentivize land management practices which maximize sequestration, natural function, and resilience to climate change and extreme events.