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Everyday is Earth Day in Santa Monica

April 22, 2021 10:30 AM
by Drew L. Johnstone

Everyday is Earth Day in Santa Monica

Caption: "CA(A)P,” by the Climate Action Santa Monica Climate Corps’ Eco-Art team: Nikita Bahadur, Bahar Vasli and Emily Putnam.


“Santa Monica’s commitment to sustainability is part of our community’s DNA. We are using the power of community to enhance our resources, prevent harm to the natural environment and human health, and benefit the social and economic wellbeing of the community for the sake of current and future generations.  As a City, we are doing our part.  We remain committed to reaching our goals of water self-sufficiency, zero waste, and carbon neutrality.  You can get involved this Earth Day, and every day, by joining in the neighborhood cleanup effort and making meaningful changes to reduce your environmental impact.” 

- Shannon Parry, Chief Sustainability Officer

As a community, we see the effects of climate change happening in Santa Monica: beach erosion, extreme climate events like wildfires and heat waves, and inequitable access to resources.  We must take bold steps to care for the future of our planet. Adopted in May 2019, the City of Santa Monica’s Climate Action Plan set ambitious goals for reducing our water, waste, and energy use to help mitigate the effects of climate change.  Some of our high-level goals from this plan include:

  • Becoming water self-sufficient
  • Diverting 95% of materials from landfills and averaging 1.1 pounds of waste per person per day
  • Procuring 100% renewable grid electricity
  • Creating zero net carbon buildings and reducing fossil fuel use in existing buildings by 20%, by 2030
  • Converting 50% of local trips to foot, bike, scooter, or skateboard; 25% of commuter trips to transit; and 50% of personal vehicles to electric or zero-emission by 2030

This work will take community support and participation. Thankfully, right here in Santa Monica, we have people showing us what’s possible.

Let’s look at some of the City’s upcoming sustainability events to commemorate this Earth Day:

Sustainable Quality Awards on April 29, 2021

Celebrating its 25th year, the Sustainable Quality Awards in partnership with the Santa Monica Chamber, the City of Santa Monica, and Sustainable Works recognizes local businesses that demonstrate excellence in helping Santa Monica move toward a more sustainable future.  The virtual awards event will take place on April 29 from 12p – 1:30p on Zoom.   A delicious vegetarian box lunch is available to attendees for an additional charge catered by Back on the Beach, a Sustainable Quality Award winner! 

Santa Monica Shines Spring Cleanup Now Through August

You can make a difference, start today! Let’s work together to keep our community clean. Pick up a cleanup kit at a convenient Santa Monica location and pick-up trash around your neighborhood. Kits will be available for pick up at Santa Monica Locations through August 31. Cleanup kick locations >

Film Screening of I Am Greta on May 4, 2021

Greta Thunberg was 15 years old when she started school striking for the climate. She skips school every Friday to sit outside the parliament to show the politicians that they need to care about her future and make decisions in alignment with what she is learning at school.  A film about acting to stop climate change before it's too late.

> Full details here


And here’s a look back at some of the key accomplishments and resources from the last year to create a more sustainable community: 

New Sustainability Calculator for Residents

To help us all make more sustainable choices, the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment has launched a new tool to help you calculate your environmental impact so we can better connect you to available resources and programs. This quick quiz will provide opportunities for individuals to take immediate action towards supporting citywide climate goals. Visit www.santamonica.gov/sustainableSaMo to start your journey.

Clean Energy and Sustainable Building

As a founding member of the Clean Power Alliance, the City of Santa Monica is leading the way to decarbonize sources of electricity. Since joining in 2019, 97% of Santa Monica’s electricity customers are being supplied with renewable energy through the grid and that has reduced city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 17%!   

New construction in Santa Monica is more sustainable than ever.  The City adopted an Energy and Green Building Code that requires on-site solar energy, electric vehicle chargers, and encourages zero-emission, all-electric building systems.  In 2020, over 90 new solar systems were installed on rooftops. 

City Hall East has been commissioned and recognized by the International Living Futures Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council-LA Chapter as one of the greenest municipal buildings in the world.  On May 3, City Hall East opens to the public for appointments only and limited capacity. 

Switching equipment in buildings from natural gas to electric will play a key role in helping the City reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. This year, the Office of Sustainability & the Environment introduced a pilot rebate program to assist residents in retrofitting their homes with efficient electric appliances.  The rebate targets the three most common uses of natural gas in homes; water heating, space heating, and cooking – by offering rebates for heat pump water heaters, heat pump HVAC systems, and induction cooktops, as well as electric panel upgrades, if needed.


Sustainable Transportation

In November 2020, the City of Santa Monica began work on a protected bike lane on City streets, in an effort to advance the City's mobility and economic recovery goals to create vibrant, safe public safes for all to enjoy. Nineteen miles of protected bike lanes will be built over the next five years, giving bike riders a safe route to Santa Monica's beach bike paths and complementing the City's expanding sidewalk dining areas.

 

Electric vehicles are more prevalent than ever – the map above shows where plug-in vehicles are registered throughout the City.  Due to high demand and an increasing number of electric vehicles in the City’s municipal fleet, 31 additional electric vehicle charge ports were installed at the Civic Center Parking Structure. Today, the structure has a total of 45 Level-2 charge ports to power the City’s EV fleet and provide additional public charging options. The majority of the parking structure’s electricity is offset with rooftop solar.   Beach Lot 5 South also received 24 new EV charging ports for use by the public and the Zero Emissions Delivery Zone Pilot vehicles.  Both of these projects were funded by the SCE Charge Ready Program.

The City is advancing solutions to reduce pollution, congestion and noise with a first-in-the-nation Zero Emissions Delivery Zone within a one-square-mile of Downtown Santa Monica.  The concept was generated by local government officials, utilities, state regulators, automakers, industry leaders, labor, and startups.


Sustainable Landscapes

The Office of Sustainability and the Environment encourages and enables projects which ensure efficient water use, the elimination of urban runoff, and the promotion of healthy and diverse habitats for all existing and new landscapes. This is done in an effort to create sustainable water use habits, and to promote the use of climate-appropriate plants that contribute to biodiversity and overall environmental health.  The City’s Community Gardens grew over 10,000 lbs of food and served over 120 families.

Five years ago, the City of Santa Monica partnered with The Bay Foundation to pilot a three-acre Natural Dune Beach Restoration Project to improve the biodiversity and resilience of Santa Monica’s beaches.  Today, native vegetation continues to blossom, and growing dunes provide resilience against sea-level rise and beach erosion. A second dune restoration project is being considered and pending grant funds, the design will start in the Summer of 2021.  


Awards from 2020 & 2021

The City’s sustainability efforts have recently been recognized by the International Code Council, International Living Future Institute, U.S. Green Building Council-LA Chapter, and Insurify.  City Hall East became the first municipal building in the world to achieve the LBC Ready designation from the International Living Future Institute.

 

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