Environment California Research & Policy Center
Reducing global warming pollution is critical to protecting California’s environment, but doing so can also deliver big rewards for our state’s economy. All across California, businesses, farms, government agencies, schools and nonprofits are demonstrating that action to reduce heat-trapping emissions can improve competitiveness and strengthen the bottom line. Energy efficiency measures and clean energy projects reduce waste, cut energy costs, limit exposure to fossil fuel price spikes, and attract environmentally aware customers. This report highlights ten organizations that have made investments in clean energy solutions, together reducing their emissions of global warming pollution by the equivalent of over 280 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year while saving more than $4 million annually. The steps these organizations have taken to reduce their operating costs and reduce global warming pollution are quickly becoming the norm in the Golden State. California should continue to adopt and strengthen sensible policies that encourage clean energy and energy efficiency innovations, such as the Million Solar Roofs Initiative and the Electric Program Investment Charge. This will ensure that all of California’s communities will be able to make inroads into a clean, sustainable energy future. Gills Onions – Oxnard Gills Onions, a family-owned onion grower in Oxnard, installed a biogas energy system to turn its own crop waste into electricity. Using onion peels, the system generates 60 percent of the annual energy needs of the onion processing plant. The system has also greatly reduced truck trips formerly needed to haul away onion waste.
- Gills Onions reduced emissions of carbon dioxide pollution by over 4 million pounds per year, helping California to fight global warming.
- In 2010, Gills Onions saved $800,000 through energy savings and reduced labor and transportation costs.
Golden Valley Unified School District – Madera Golden Valley Unified School District is using renewable energy to help combat the state budget crunch. It purchased a 1.1-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system that supplies 80 percent of the district’s total annual electricity consumption.
- The solar array prevents 2.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution each year.
- The school district expects to achieve up to $250,000 in cumulative energy savings by 2017 and up to $9 million in cumulative energy savings after 25 years of operation.
Anheuser-Busch InBev – Fairfield Anheuser Busch installed a large, utility-scale 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at its Fairfield Brewery in 2011, adding to a 1.2-megawatt solar array and a biogas energy system fueled by brewing waste products. On a net annual basis, the turbine produces about 20 percent of the electricity needed at the plant.
- The wind turbine reduces carbon dioxide pollution by 6 million pounds per year.
- The wind turbine alone will reduce energy costs by $1.6 million to $2.5 million over a 20 year period.
Sonoma County Family YMCA – Santa Rosa The Sonoma County Family YMCA installed a 273-kilowatt solar PV array in its parking lot. The solar array produces 80 percent of the facility’s electricity needs and also doubles as a shade structure for vehicles. The YMCA has also installed energy-efficient lighting and an efficient pool heater.
- The solar system will offset 219,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and reduce over 3,000 pounds of other unhealthy pollutants each year.
- At the same time, the solar system will save up to $250,000 in energy costs over a 15-year period.
San Mateo Community College District – San Mateo County The San Mateo Community College District, which consists of College of San Mateo, Cañada College in Redwood City and Skyline College in San Bruno, has built five LEED Gold certified buildings as part of a capital improvement plan. These buildings incorporate energy-efficient lighting, cool roofs, and digital temperature control systems to reduce energy consumption by as much as 34 percent compared to similar buildings constructed to code.
- Energy efficiency improvements have eliminated 1.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution since 2007.
- The new buildings reduced annual electricity costs by $275,000.
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar – San Diego The Marine Corps considers energy independence to be a top priority, and it has pursued renewable energy projects to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels from the commercial power grid. The Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar is halfway towards a goal of producing all of its electricity from on-site sources by 2017, with the bulk of this energy coming from a 3.2-megawatt landfill methane gas plant.
- MCAS Miramar is eliminating the equivalent of over 250 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution each year.
- The base reduced its energy bills by an estimated $820,738 in 2012.
Marine Corps Base and Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton – San Diego County Camp Pendleton has installed more than 2 megawatts of solar PV capacity throughout the base, including a 1.4-megawatt array constructed on top of a sealed-off landfill. The Air Station has also installed an innovative skylight system in several of its hangars and buildings, maximizing natural lighting and reducing energy usage.
- Camp Pendleton’s renewable energy systems have reduced carbon dioxide pollution by over 8 million pounds through the first ten months of FY 2012, and the skylight systems eliminate nearly 1.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
- Camp Pendleton has also saved $844,754 in energy costs through the first ten months of FY 2012, while the skylights save $103,000 in energy costs each year.
Clif Bar – Emeryville At its headquarters building in Emeryville, Clif Bar has installed a 531-kilowatt “smart” solar array and solar water heating system. The company also uses recycled packaging materials to ship its products.
- Clif Bar’s solar array and use of recycled packaging reduce carbon dioxide pollution by more than
- 8.7 million pounds per year.
- The solar array reduces energy costs by $145,000 each year—savings that are expected to grow between 5-7 percent annually.
Century Plaza Towers – Los Angeles Century Plaza Towers became a LEED Gold rated building in 2011, a rare standard among high-rise office buildings. To achieve this distinction, building ownership invested in a variety of state-of-the-art energy efficiency improvements, high-tech transportation solutions, and other sustainability initiatives including a highly efficient heating and cooling system, lighting improvements, and special window coating to help keep interior areas of the building cool. Their most significant measure, however, is a ParkHelp System in its parking garage that guides drivers to vacant parking spaces, reducing traffic congestion and achieving significant fuel savings.
- The various measures reduce global warming pollution by an estimated 4 million pounds annually.
- Building owernship expects to save more than $900,000 annually thanks to their investment in energy efficiency.
Constellation Place – Los Angeles Constellation Place, a 35-story high-rise office building, implemented a variety of energy efficiency measures and was the first high-rise office building in Los Angeles to achieve a LEED Silver designation in 2008 and LEED Gold certification in 2010. Its chief sustainability achievement is an almost 1 megawatt (MW) solar PV system that is one the largest urban arrays in the city of Los Angeles.
- The roof-mounted 1 MW solar photovoltaic systems reduces global warming pollution by an estimated 1.2 million pounds each year.
- The solar electric systems alone are saving Constellation Place an estimated $100,000 annually.
Policy Recommendations By promoting strategies that reduce global warming pollution, California can position itself to become cleaner and more prosperous. California can also help businesses and consumers save money while creating jobs. Toward this end, California should:
- Limit global warming pollution by implementing AB 32.
- Auction 100 percent of emission allowances through the AB 32 cap-and-trade program and use revenues from auctions to support clean energy programs, energy efficiency, and clean transportation.
- Promote large-scale energy efficiency improvements and distributed generation with financial incentives and expanded net metering policies.
- Generate at least 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and increase the requirement going forward.
- Work cooperatively with other states and the federal government to encourage and adopt similar global warming solutions.