By Christie Marcella Economic Development Manager City of Carlsbad
The State of California has put forth ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with mandates to reduce our emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Cities throughout the state are addressing this requirement by developing detailed “Climate Action Plans.”
The City of Carlsbad finalized its Climate Action Plan in 2015 when the City Council approved our updated General Plan, which lays out policies for how the city will use land in the future. Since land use decisions have a big impact on the environment, the updated General Plan works hand in hand with the Climate Action Plan.
Currently, projects that require a formal application to the Planning Division and will emit 900 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents must undergo review for Climate Action Plan compliance. Such projects include:
50 dwelling units or more of single family housing
70 dwelling units or more of multi-family housing
35,000 square feet or more of office
11,000 square feet or more of retail
To help you understand whether your project meets the threshold, the city has published a guidebook, “Guidance to Demonstrating Consistency with the Climate Action Plan.” This publication can help you determine if your project must undergo review.
By complying with the city’s Climate Action Plan, these projects will also satisfy the state’s required greenhouse gas analysis, something recently added to the California Environmental Quality Act. This is a great example of agencies working together to reduce redundant steps and bureaucracy.
Builders aren’t the only businesses affected by the Climate Action Plan. All businesses are encouraged, and in some cases required, to become more environmentally friendly. To ease this task, City of Carlsbad Community Development and Planning officials have developed a list of financing and rebate programs that can help businesses with energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, to ease the financial burden. Here are several:
SDG&E provides a business rebate and incentive finder tool that can be customized to your type of business. It includes energy efficiency rebates and incentives, ways to improve building performance, and zero percent business financing programs. SDG&E also offers the Savings by Design program, which provides incentives and design assistance services.
The Self-Generation Incentive Program provides financial incentives to commercial and industrial property owners for the installation of distributed generation technologies on their properties.
The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit provides tax credits for the installation of solar electricity and heating/cooling systems and other technologies.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs allow the financing of energy efficient and renewable energy through a property tax assessment. Two programs currently authorized to operate in Carlsbad are Samas Commercial and YgreneWorks.
Many businesses are finding that going green can help their bottom line because it reduces energy costs and appeals to Carlsbad residents (their customers). For buildings, green features make a space more attractive to tenants. Lease rates for green buildings can be up to 20 percent higher than average rates, and green buildings typically have higher occupancy rates than non-green buildings.
Businesses can find a copy of the Climate Action Plan on the city’s website, along with a quick reference guide for how businesses can comply.
The City of Carlsbad is dedicated to easing the transition to a more sustainable future and partnering with the Chamber’s Sustainability Committee to implement our Climate Action Plan.