By Council Member Jon Harrison
In March of 2010,Redlands became one of only 10 cities chose by Southern California Edison to participate in the California Green Communities Challenge. The program enables us to highlight progress in 10 “challenge areas”, including energy efficiency and conservation, green building efficient transportation and land user and community design that contribute to keeping our quality of life high and save money for the city, its residents and its businesses.
The City Council and staff rose to the challenge, developing materials for the California Green communities’ website, creating a checklist of existing sustainability measures and projects and an action plan to designate future sustainability projects to meet different levels of participation in the program. These are all local actions that create more efficient operations for the City and reduce ongoing costs through energy efficiency, waste-stream diversion, water conservation and sustainable environmental practices.
The action plan submitted to the California Green Communities in April 2011 includes programs currently in operation such as the City’s Recycled Product Preference policy, passed by the Council six years ago to increase the use of recycled products; marketing of the City’s LNG/CNG fueling station, which increases sales of alternative fuels from the City to private vehicle owners as well as commercial alternative fuel fleets; and installation of a photovoltaic system at the City’s wastewater treatment plant, saving the City $16,000, and 200,000 kilowatt hours every year.
Other aspects of the plan will be implemented over the next several years such as conversion to highly efficient and long lasting LED street lights; retrofitting City equipment and facilities to take advantage of newer, more sustainable and cost effective technologies and building materials; and improving the City’s non-motorized transportation, making it easier for local residents and visitors to walk or bicycle to destinations throughout the City. Cost/benefit analysis of programs like theLED streetlights show the savings on operating costs cover the capital investment in only a few years and continue to yield savings to the city.
With the Redlands Rail Project coming ever closer to reality the City is reviewing land use and community design around the stations, including downtown, to promote residential and commercial development in these areas and take advantage of investments in roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure that already serve the community.
A report on the status ofRedlands’ involvement in the California Green Communities Challenge, including a comprehensive discussion of each of our initiatives, will be coming before the City Council during an upcoming meeting. That report will be available at City Hall and online.
I encourage each of our residents and all our local businesses to get involved in promoting a more sustainable future for our City. Feel free to contact me or Danielle Garcia in the City’s Quality of Life Department at dgarcia@cityof redlands.org.