Program is Conducting Greenhouse Gas Inventories to Help South Bay Cities Develop Strategies for State Emissions Compliance
TORRANCE, CALIF., October 3, 2023 – The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) celebrates the 20th anniversary of its South Bay Environmental Services Center (SBESC), a program that works lockstep with 16 South Bay cities and their utilities to provide resources about energy efficiency, water conservation, transportation options (carpool and vanpool), waste reduction and recycling to South Bay cities, school districts, residents and businesses.
Among the program’s key accomplishments is the development of climate action plans (CAPs) and subregional climate vulnerability assessments for all cities, with regular updates on their greenhouse gas emissions. CAPs provide strategies for cities to meet the state’s climate goals, such as the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, required by California Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006.
Through its energy work, since 2003, the SBESC has helped cities save
- more than 15 million kilowatt hours of electricity (enough energy to power 1,308 homes for one year), and
- 99,000 gas therms (equal to the amount of GHGs generated from 117 gas-powered cars driven for one year).
Additional key accomplishments include
- collecting more than 3,000 incandescent holiday lights from the community in exchange for new LED holidays lights, which use 80% less electricity and cost less than a dollar per season to operate, in partnership with Southern California Edison,
- completing more than 600 water assessments at South Bay commercial kitchens, in partnership with the West Basin Municipal Water District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Torrance Water,
- helping to certify more than 200 South Bay businesses in the California Green Business Network,
- distributing more than 14,000 rain barrels to residents since 2015 in partnership with West Basin and Torrance Water,
- providing information to the public at more than 100 community, employee and business events and presentations annually,
- facilitating training and workshops that help cities adopt energy-efficient, water-efficient and waste-reduction policies and practices, and
- involving the community and extending its reach with SBCCOG volunteers since 2008
“The SBCCOG has developed great working relationships with its utilities, which in turn provide funding for energy- and water-saving programs in South Bay cities,” said Kim Fuentes, deputy director of the SBCCOG, who manages environmental programs. “That momentum has steadily surged as the community’s appetite has grown for sustainability resources to reduce the South Bay’s environmental footprint.”
The SBESC was established in 2003 on the tail of an unprecedented state energy crisis. That year, the city of Redondo Beach asked the SBCCOG to help implement a program to incentivize the purchase of EnergyStar® appliances through instant rebates. Thus, the SBCCOG’s first energy efficiency education and outreach program began, under the name the South Bay Energy Rewards Program. Building on the program’s success, Southern California Edison (SCE) and SoCalGas approached the SBCCOG to form a local government partnership program for the 2004-2008 portfolio cycle. It would be a marketing, education and outreach program for the entire SBCCOG geographic area, involving cities, utilities, residents and business.
The SBCCOG team recognized it would be more beneficial if hard energy savings were included in the program. It began pursuing opportunities to implement programs such as a joint energy/lighting retrofit contract and discounted purchase of energy-saving vending machine controller devices for South Bay cities. This effort was branded the South Bay Energy Savings Center or SBESC.
As community energy outreach efforts continued, opportunities developed to speak about other resource-saving measures like water. In 2006, the SBCCOG added West Basin Municipal Water District and the city of Torrance Water Department to the existing partnerships with SCE and SoCalGas.
With this expansion, the SBCCOG board changed the name of the program to its current name: South Bay Environmental Services Center, keeping the acronym SBESC.
“Over the past 17 years, SBESC has provided critical outreach and education services to help raise awareness of West Basin’s water efficiency and educational programs to South Bay communities,” said West Basin in a statement made by its board of directors. “With their partnership and dedicated staff, West Basin has been able to reach many more people and make greater strides toward making ‘Conservation a California Way of Life,’ resulting in increased water reliability and resiliency throughout the South Bay.”
Following a call to cities by nine U.S. mayors in 2005 to take action to reduce global warming, California passed Assembly Bill 32, which set a deadline for compliance. This served as the impetus for the SBCCOG to work with cities in 2005 and 2007 to complete GHG inventories for each city, funded by a special assessment. It updated results in 2011 and 2012, funded by SCE and SoCalGas. SBCCOG staff collected and imputed data provided by various agencies. It then quantified the figures using the ClearPath tool (icleiusa.org/clearpath) from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, which converts statistics into emissions data. The SBCCOG is now reviewing the 2019 and 2020 emissions.
Using this baseline carbon footprint, the SBCCOG worked with cities to develop climate action plans (CAPs) to help them set goals for reducing their GHGs. These plans were adopted by each city council. Since then, the SBCCOG has leveraged those CAPs to secure partnerships and funding to implement and promote recommended changes, such as energy equipment upgrades for municipal facilities, residents, businesses and community members. The CAPs have also helped the SBCCOG secure competitive grant funding and expand energy partnerships to include the Southern California Regional Energy Network (SoCalREN) to promote energy efficiency at public agencies.
Over time, the Water Replenishment District (WRD) and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power joined West Basin and Torrance Water to work with the SBCCOG to promote water conservation initiatives, such as trainings and workshops on nonfunctional turf replacement, distribution of rain barrels, and replacement of water-wasting faucets and showerheads.
This year, the SBESC launched the South Bay Energy & Climate Recognition Program, in collaboration with the SoCalREN, to recognize cities for their sustainable actions. Cities will be recognized for their achievements at a ceremony this December hosted by the SBCCOG and the SoCalREN. Learn more at southbaycities.org/programs/energy-efficiency.
“We’re now building off our existing network and audiences to bring even more programs to help our cities and the South Bay,” said Jacki Bacharach, executive director, SBCCOG. “Because of our many years of working with our cities on sustainability, we can hit the ground running. We are now going to double down to help our cities stay at the forefront of the huge climate challenges ahead of us. And we can face them better together, which is what the SBCCOG and SBESC are all about.”
Learn more about the SBESC and its programs and read the complete “South Bay’s Journey to Green Timeline” at southbaycities.org/environmental-services-center.
ABOUT SOUTH BAY CITIES COUNCIL OF GOVERMENTS
The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) is a joint powers government agency of 16 cities and the County of Los Angeles which share the goal of maximizing the quality of life and productivity of the subregion. Within this structure, cities and Los Angeles County maintain the qualities and characteristics that make them unique and independent, while also coming together collectively to address issues of common interest for a greater good of the communities through fostering cooperation, collaboration and innovation. For more information about the SBCCOG visit southbaycities.org.