Escondido's appeal as a desirable place to live revolves around our community's quality of life including safe and livable neighborhoods, affordable housing, competitive job opportunities, a healthy environment, recreation and entertainment venues, good schools and community facilities, and a transportation system that provides easy access to work, school, shopping, and other activities.
Escondido's population will grow over the next decades and the City's ability to accommodate that growth and sustain its quality of life will be vital in preserving the community's desirability. Development should be balanced with the need to preserve and conserve natural resources in order to ensure that current and future generations are able to enjoy the benefits of Escondido.
With the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, California has become a world leader in progressive legislation aimed at curbing climate change. The bill requires California to roll back its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and provides a framework for achieving that goal in a quantifiable and cost-effective way while boosting economic growth through green job creation.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will work with the Western Climate Initiative to institute a regional "Cap and Trade" system and provide economic incentives for industries to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. Effective August 1, 2009, the California Building Standards Commission adopted the Green Building Standards Code, which institutes minimum environmental performance standards.
To meet this ambitious goal, Californians must act not only at the state level, but at the local and household levels as well. As a first step towards a greener future, the City has collaborated with SANDAG and SDG&E to prepare a City of Escondido Energy Roadmap that identifies ways to save energy in government operations resulting in municipal cost savings and benefits to the environment. In addition, this Go Green Escondido web page provides information on how individuals, families, and businesses can reduce their carbon footprints, use less energy, and ultimately save money as they do their part enhancing Escondido's sustainability.
1. Where can I get more information about pertinent legislation?
2. Global warming seems like such a big issue. How can I hope to make a difference?
Climate change, like many environmental issues, can be overwhelming in its size and complexity. But the combined efforts of individuals can be powerful. Taking personal action and setting an example for others will send a strong message to business and government.
Significant statewide and federal legislation is forthcoming. In the meantime, actions made on an individual and local level will make a substantial difference. A recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory prepared by University of San Diego found that "when aggregated, the impact of individual actions on San Diego County's regional greenhouse gas levels is significant. The combination of passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks, residential electricity use, and natural gas consumption accounts for about 19 MMT CO2E [Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent], or 56% of total emissions."
Reducing our carbon footprint is primarily about using less energy, which means spending less money for electricity, natural gas, water, and fuel. A good first step is to calculate your individual carbon footprint with Cool California's Carbon Calculator to see your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
3. What can I do to reduce my carbon footprint at home?
There are a variety of home improvements and actions that will reduce our footprint at home, ranging from simple changes of habit to complete home remodels. Changing our purchasing habits is one of the best ways to affect the priorities of companies vying for our patronage, effectively allowing us to vote with our dollars.
- The lush landscaping in many San Diego communities is deceiving; we live in an arid region. Transporting, purifying and distributing water in our area takes a lot of energy. See our Water Conservation page for more information.
- Visit the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon for demonstrations of beautiful drought-tolerant landscaping. If you think you've got what it takes, San Diego County has an annual California-Friendly Landscape Contest
- Get an energy audit. SDG&E has a free online tool that provides an accurate overview of your current electricity and natural gas consumption.
- Replace standard light bulbs with long-lasting and energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs are generally available at little to no cost. Visit Exchange to Save for more information.
- Use energy efficient appliances. Electronics with the Energy Star logo meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and the US Department of Energy. For more information and a list of Energy Star approved products, visit www.energystar.gov.
- Be conscious of electricity use at home. Turn off unused lights, televisions, and other appliances. Consider purchasing an electricity monitoring device to precisely track your usage.
- Be wary of "energy vampires," or appliances and power adapters that use power even though they are turned off. Connect adapters to a power strip and turn them all off when you're done using them.
- See SDG&E's FAQ about appliances for more great tips.
- Visit Escondido's Energy Information page for additional information.
Purchase Green and Reduce Waste
- Produce in the United States is shipped an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate. To decrease your stomach's carbon footprint, purchase food grown locally and organically. The Escondido Farmer's Market, happening in downtown every Tuesday afternoon, is a great place to find locally grown food items.
- If you can't make it to our Farmer's Market, look into local Community Supported Agriculture. CSA's deliver seasonal produce grown locally to various neighborhood pick-up points, or even to your doorstep!
- Compost your leftovers to reduce solid waste and create free fertilizer for your garden. Visit the EPA's Composting site for more information.
- Avoid using disposable bags at the grocery store. Most markets have reusable bags made of cloth or recycled materials for sale right in the checkout aisle, but a backpack can work just as well.
- Avoid products with unnecessary amounts of single-use packaging.
- Buy used. Extending the life of an item is doubly effective because it is kept out of the landfill and prevents the need for a new one to be made.
- Pay your bills and view your bank statements online. This reduces the amount of solid waste your household produces and saves energy and money spent on unnecessary printing and mailing.
- Remember the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Visit our Recycling and Waste Reduction page for more information.
- When building a new home or remodeling an existing one, utilize Green Building Principles of site design, energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, and materials selection. Information as well as a comprehensive rating system can be found at www.builditgreen.org.
- Get free customizable building plans for Green homes, find Green builders, and read reviews of building materials and appliances at www.freegreen.com.
- Plant shade trees to reduce your home's temperature and the need for air conditioning.
- Consider purchasing a solar photovoltaic array, which allows you to sell energy back to the grid when you're generating more than you use. Also consider a solar hot water heater.
- Click here to find out about the various state and local incentives available for adding energy-efficient improvements to your home.
4. What can I do to reduce my carbon footprint at work?
Whether you own a business or are employed by one, voicing your opinion about climate change is important. Make it a policy to accept comments from employees or even customers about ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy.
Start a car- or bike-pooling program and offer amenities and incentives for employees who use alternative transportation. Some examples include partial transit reimbursement, raffle prizes, free gym memberships, and verbal recognition.
Consider a green purchasing policy. Make an effort to purchase recycled paper products, energy efficient appliances, and biodegradable packaging where feasible.
Reduce paper use. Print on both sides of the page for large documents, use email to send documents when possible, and endeavor to achieve a paperless office.
One business's trash is another's treasure. Use the California Materials Exchange (CalMAX) to search for available or desired materials in a variety of categories such as bulk glass, construction materials, storage containers, pallets, and beanie babies.
Advertise. Being an environmentally friendly business is great Public Relations and customers looking for ways to support going green will reward you with their patronage. Joining the San Diego County Green Business Project is a good way to start.
Incorporate green building design when building a new facility or remodeling an old one. Visit the business section of Build It Green or the US Green Building Council's LEED Web site for more information.
Visit SDG&E's Business Energy Savings Center for information and rebates for businesses large and small.
5. What can I do to reduce my carbon footprint on the road?
The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your automobile is to leave it parked! Walk, bike, or roller-skate for nearby errands, and use NCTD service for more distant ones.
Use iCommute, Craigslist Ridesharing, or a similar service to set up one-time or recurring carpools with like-minded people.
Consider working from home one day a week, or re-arrange your hours to complete your work-week in fewer days, if feasible.
Drive with fuel economy in mind. The U.S. Department of Energy maintains a list of Gas Mileage Tips involving simple driving habits and maintenance measures that can substantially increase your car's fuel efficiency.
Buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. In USD's Greenhouse Gas Inventory for San Diego County, light-duty trucks were shown to be responsible for just over 50% of on-road emissions. If you own one of these vehicles, consider driving it no more than necessary or replacing it entirely. There are many options for high-MPG and alternative fuel vehicles, from plug-in electric cars to biodiesel trucks and everything in between. Visit the Department of Energy's Fuel Economy web site for information on tax incentives available.
6. What incentives and rebates are offered for Escondido residents to make energy-efficient improvements?
Go Solar! California – "A one stop shop for information on rebates, tax credits, and incentives for solar-energy systems in California."
City of Escondido Water Conservation Programs and Rebates
San Diego County Water Authority's Rebates and Incentives (also in Spanish)
Rincon del Diablo Water District
SDG&E Rebates and Incentives for the Home (also in Spanish)
SDG&E Rebates and Incentives for Businesses (also in Spanish)
SDG&E Lighting Exchange
US Department of Energy Tax Incentives
7. Where can I get more information about green living?
Greenlivingtips.com, Eartheasy.com, Greener living guide.com, Treehugger.com, OurEarth.org are just of few of many web sites loaded with information on living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
8. What organizations exist to promote conservation of our local habitats?
9. What is the City of Escondido doing to mitigate its own greenhouse emissions?
The City of Escondido has instituted several measures aimed at curbing green house emissions at City hall as well as various City facilities.
- The City Hall Central Energy Plant that was originally installed in 1988 was upgraded with a state-of- the-art energy efficient system in 2007 that now saves the city $179,000 in annual operating costs.
- City Hall was re-roofed in 2007 with a heat reflective material further saving cooling costs. The California Consumer Energy Center has information about cool roof technology.
- The City retrofitted 20 public works vehicles in 2005 with mitigation funds received from the San Diego Air Pollution Control District to install filters that capture diesel exhaust particulate matter that would otherwise be released in the air.
- Escondido, in partnership with the local water district, offers water conservation programs/rebates to single-family and business customers.
- The City's Water Conservation web page provides helpful tips and programs on conserving water.
- The City offers education and public outreach in the form of presentations to elementary school students about water conservation.
- Escondido is an active participant in the 20-Gallon Challenge that strives for reducing each person's water usage 20 gallons per day.
Escondido, along with other developers and contractors of several large public and private projects, are incorporating environmentally friendly features that will serve as an example for others:
Escondido is proud to be the home of Palomar Medical Center West, which plans to install a green roof on one of its structures. Apart from being pleasant to look at, green roofs reduce the heat island effect, lowering the need for air conditioning, and retain storm water, reducing the amount of runoff that enters the sewer system.
The Stone Brewery recently opened for business in Escondido and raised the bar for businesses incorporating green technology. Surrounded by drought-tolerant landscaping, topped with a 312-kilowatt solar array which provides roughly 40% of Stone's energy needs, and serviced by a fleet of biodiesel trucks, the rapidly expanding brewery has made environmentalism part of a very successful business plan. Stone Brewery's World Bistro & Gardens is a "slow-food" restaurant, offering a menu of seasonal, organic, and locally grown sundries.
Westfield Shoppingtown sports a light-colored "cool roof" designed to curb the urban heat island effect and reduce the need for air conditioning.
The City pursued LEED certification for the new Police and Fire Facility located on North Centre City Parkway.
The City is developing Green Building practices for public and private uses.
Escondido is the home of two North County Transit District Sprinter stops as well as the District's storage and maintenance facility.
The Escondido Downtown Business Association has partnered with Palomar Pomerado Hospital to provide free shuttle service between Downtown and the Escondido Transit Center during weekday commuting hours, making public transportation for downtown employees more viable.
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), in cooperation with North County Transit District (NCTD), the City of Escondido and unincorporated County initiated the Escondido BREEZE Rapid that commenced service in 2009 to enhance transit service between the Downtown Escondido Transit Center and Westfield Shoppingtown.
10. Will Escondido's General Plan Update include policies that encourage sustainable principles?
Escondido is updating its General Plan—the City's blueprint for future growth. A component of that update will be incorporating policies that promote sustainability as well as Smart Growth planning principles that advocates compact, transit-oriented land use and the concentration of growth in the city's core. Smart Growth takes a broad view and prioritizes long-term regional visions over short-term interests in order to prevent inefficient urban sprawl. The main elements of Smart Growth are:
- Compact, Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendly Neighborhoods
- Transit-Oriented Development
- Preserving Open Space
- Improving Existing Communities
Click here for more information on Escondido's General Plan Update.