San Bernardino County Commits to Going Green
As the largest county in the United States, San Bernardino is leading the way as an environmentally conscientious region. The enactment of water saving ordinances and a willingness to retrofit outdated buildings are ways San Bernardino facilitates conservation within its vast and unique desert ecosystem.
In arid regions like San Bernardino County, landscaping can consume up to 70 percent of household water use. To encourage water conservation and lead by example, San Bernardino has added plants that require less water and replaced the traditional sprinkler system with drip line in municipal buildings, like the County Crime Lab. The new changes save about 165,000 gallons of water per year.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards have also been implemented to redesign and rebuild out-of-date county buildings from the 1950s. The project estimates over $60,000 in annual savings per building. The Crestline Public Library is the first LEED building to be completed.
In addition to conservation efforts, San Bernardino County is focusing on reducing its transportation-related emissions. To encourage the public to join in the effort, the county has released maps of every city detailing bike routes as a way to encourage alternative means of transportation. Commuter services, like ride sharing, bike and public transit options have encouraged over 4,000 county employees to use such transportation.
What actions does San Bernardino County take to reduce energy use?
In conjunction with the Pacific Power Management, LLC, and Sierra Aluminum Company, San Bernardino County has installed an 800 kW photovoltaic (PV) system producing 60-70 percent of the energy used by the facility. This will eliminate 21,772 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The PV system was purchased at a reduced cost through a Power Purchasing Agreement.
What actions does San Bernardino county take to reduce vehicle carbon emissions?
San Bernardino was one of the first counties in California to convert fleet vehicles to alternative fuels by buying 20 hybrid cars in 2003. An additional 90 sedans, 25 SUVs and 10 hybrid trucks have since been purchased, saving over 224 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Public Works Division has also converted its traditional diesel vehicles to natural gas and San Bernardino County Fire recently purchased 8 hybrid sedans.
What actions does San Bernardino County take to promote public involvement?
The public is highly encouraged to landscape with drought tolerant plants. Rebates are offered for efficient landscapes through the Coachella Valley Water District, as well as workshops and literature on how this can be accomplished. Free disposal of harmful chemicals and electronic waste is also offered. As for transportation, 46 percent of Americans bike for pleasure so an extensive bike trail system is provided. The County also works with businesses to provide financial incentives for employees who partake in alternative methods of transportation.
Green Actions (2007-2011):
- City vehicles have been converted to hybrid cars, saving over 200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
- Over 4,000 county employees now ride a bike, carpool, or take public transportation to work, easing congestion and reducing the number of emissions produced from idling cars.
- Drip irrigation lines were installed as a measure to conserve water at the Barstow Police Department and the San Bernardino County Crime Lab, drastically cutting water use. Over 165,000 gallons of water are saved per year at just one location.
- A business guide to recycling and reducing waste has been published and made available to encourage small business environmental sustainability.
So far, 2.7 million kW hours have been saved throughout the county, equal to powering over 375 houses “off grid”, or not using electricity bought through traditional means.