In 2019, a major component of the City of Carlsbad’s Climate Action Plan will go into effect, requiring new and some existing developments to meet sustainability thresholds. These new thresholds will help the city meet state goals for reducing greenhouse gases and the community’s goal of promoting a sustainable environment.
Commercial and industrial properties account for about one-third of Carlsbad’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the Climate Action Plan seeks to focus first on helping those properties cut their energy consumption.
The Climate Action Plan was adopted as part of the city’s General Plan Update in 2015 and is a long-range strategy to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
The City Council is expected to adopt new ordinances in early 2019 to achieve the goals of the Climate Action Plan. In drafting the ordinances, city staff have kept a close watch on how the new measures will affect businesses’ bottom lines, with an eye on long-term social, environmental and economic benefits. The city conducted cost-effectiveness studies to ensure that the ordinances would not only save energy, but save money as well.
Here is a brief description of the ordinances under consideration.
The Energy Conservation, and Photovoltaic and Water Heating Ordinances
The purpose of the Energy Conservation and Photovoltaic and Water Heating Ordinances is to reduce greenhouse emissions to meet the State of California goals.
• New commercial construction will be required to install solar water heaters, heat pumps or other forms of electric water heating systems.
• New commercial and industrial developments and major renovations to existing developments will be required to include additional energy efficiency measures (to meet the energy standards of the California Energy Code, Voluntary Tier 1) and install photovoltaic systems that will reduce commercial and industrial usage.
Electric Vehicle Ordinance
Nearly 40 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks, and the goal of the Electric Vehicle Ordinance will be to increase the amount of zero-emission vehicle miles driven. The ordinance’s major points are:
• New commercial and industrial buildings will be required to set aside 10 percent of parking spaces, or at least one, for electric vehicles.
• Half of those spaces, and at least one, of the electric vehicle spaces must be equipped with charging stations.
Transportation Demand Management Ordinance
The objective of the Transportation Demand Ordinance is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting the number of Carlsbad employees who drive to work alone. The key components of the ordinance are:
• New businesses whose employees generate a minimum of 110 trips per day on average will be required to submit a Transportation Demand Management Plan to the city.
• The plan will outline facility improvements, programs, incentives, education, and marketing and outreach efforts designed to reduce solo vehicle trips.
• The city has prepared a handbook that includes tips and tools to help businesses develop their Transportation Demand Management plans.
These measures represent a challenge for businesses, and the city, state and federal governments have introduced incentives to ease the pain through tax credits, rebates and low financing.
• The federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit for solar electricity, solar water heating and other active solar systems.
• The federal government offers tax credits ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 for electric vehicles.
• The California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers rebates up to $5,000 for qualifying electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, which can be combined with the federal tax credit for substantial savings.
• SDG&E offers rebates to business customers for energy-saving products ranging from LED lighting to kitchen equipment. You can find details at www.sdge.com.
• SDG&E can help qualifying commercial and government-funded customers pay for energy-efficient improvements through their SDG&E bill with zero-percent financing.
The new measures in the Climate Action Plan can seem overwhelming to navigate, but the goal is to reduce our reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles and equipment , which provide long-term energy cost savings to businesses while enhancing city residents’ quality of life.