Fremont City

Staff Report

ADOPTION OF FINAL CLIMATE ACTION PLAN - Consider and Adopt the Final Climate Action Plan, Including
Actions for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in City Operations and the Community at Large


Category:Plans, Policies and Studies


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Item Discussion

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  In response to Council direction, staff has prepared a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to serve as the City’s roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The CAP includes a list of emission reducing actions, or strategies, organized by sector (land use and mobility, energy, solid waste, water, and municipal operations) and time frame for implementation (short-term, 1-3 years from CAP adoption; medium-term, 3-5 years from adoption; and long-term, 5-10 years from adoption). The CAP also includes: estimates of the level of GHG emission reductions which could be achieved through implementation of many of the proposed actions and estimates of the relative cost (ranked low/medium/high) to both the public and private sectors.


On April 3, 2012, the City Council considered the Draft CAP and provided direction to staff about desired changes to the Plan, which included the following:  removal of several implementation measures; more in-depth quantitative analysis of estimated costs and benefits; and a more professional graphic appearance for the document.  In response to Council’s direction, staff hired AECOM, an international consulting firm with extensive experience in the preparation of climate action plans, to assist in completing this work.  The revised CAP was posted on the City’s website in September, and a public workshop to discuss the changes to the CAP was held on October 17, 2012.  On October 25, 2012, the Planning Commission voted to recommend that Council approve the CAP.


Staff recommends the City Council adopt the Final Climate Action Plan and direct staff to begin implementation.


BACKGROUND:  Like many cities across California and the nation, the City of Fremont is preparing its first Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP includes a list of actions to guide the community as a whole and the City organization towards the Council’s adopted GHG emission reduction goal of a 25% reduction below 2005 levels by the year 2020.


Development of the Climate Action Plan: The development of the CAP grew out of the work of the Green Task Force (GTF), a citizen group appointed by Council. On
November 18, 2008, as part of consideration of the GTF’s recommendation, Council adopted the regional goal of reducing GHG emissions by 25% from the 2005 baseline by 2020.  Council also directed staff to begin preparation of a CAP concurrent with the General Plan Update.


In 2008, the City worked in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – to prepare a baseline GHG emissions inventory to determine the levels of GHG emissions emitted in Fremont in 2005.  It is important to note that estimating emissions is an inexact science; the model depends on numerous assumptions and is limited by the quantity and quality of available data. Nonetheless, Fremont’s GHG emissions inventory provides information about the relative, proportional contribution of various activities to the City’s emissions levels.


Work on the CAP began in 2009, including public outreach, cross-departmental meetings of City staff, and collaboration with representatives of other public agencies, such as Union Sanitary District and the Alameda County Water District, to identify joint opportunities for achieving GHG emission reductions.  Using input from the community, Council, and the cross-departmental working group, staff prepared a preliminary list of GHG emissions reductions that was presented to Council in June 2010, and to the public at the
November 6, 2010 community workshop related to the draft General Plan.


On July 19, 2011, the City Council reviewed and considered the draft core chapters of the CAP, and directed staff to complete preparation of the CAP.


On October 27, 2011, the Planning Commission considered the CAP at a public hearing, and directed staff to meet with stakeholders who had attended the hearing and had voiced concerns over several implementation measures.  Following the stakeholder meeting, held on November 9, 2011, staff returned to the Planning Commission on December 8, 2011. At that meeting, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the Draft CAP to the City Council, with several changes.


On April 3, 2012, the City Council considered the Draft CAP and directed staff to make a number of changes, including the removal of several implementation measures; more in-depth quantitative analysis of costs and benefits; and a more professional appearance for the document.  Staff hired AECOM, an international consulting firm with extensive experience in climate action planning and estimating greenhouse gas emission reductions, to assist with these changes.


In September 2012, the revised CAP was posted on the City’s website.  On October 17, 2012, staff held a public meeting on the CAP. Six members of the public attended. On October 25, 2012, the Planning Commission considered the Final Climate Action Plan and recommended its adoption by the City Council.






Goals of the CAP:  The overarching goals of the CAP are to identify specific and achievable actions for reducing GHG emissions and to serve as a resource for the community and City organization.


Contents:  The CAP includes the following chapters:


·         What You Can Do: What Individuals and Businesses Can Do to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

·         Chapter One: Introduction and Setting the Context

·         Chapter Two:  Land Use and Mobility: Moving Smarter, Improving Options and Changing Behavior

·         Chapter Three: Maximizing Energy Efficiency and Reducing Energy Use

·         Chapter Four: Solid Waste: How We Manage Our Material Resources

·         Chapter Five: Water: Conservation is the Key

·         Chapter Six: Municipal Services and Operations

·         Chapter Seven: Adapting to Climate Change

·         Chapter Eight: Implementation

·         Appendix A: Names and Terms Used in the Climate Action Plan


Technical appendices addressing the modeling of GHG emission reductions and relative cost estimates for the CAP’s implementation actions are provided separately from the CAP.


The CAP includes 85 proposed actions for reducing GHG emissions: 62 short-term actions (1-3 years from CAP adoption), 15 medium-term actions (3-5 years from adoption), and 8 long-term actions (5-10 years from adoption). Some of the actions are mandated by other regulatory bodies (e.g., SW-R1, which requires implementation of mandatory commercial recycling) and/or are part of ongoing programs (e.g., W-C1, which is a State requirement for implementation of the City’s Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, occurring during the development review process). Other actions are new to the City, and will require staff to develop implementation processes and programs.  When possible, AECOM developed estimates of the potential emission reductions from different actions that would be achieved in the year 2020, based on data input and assumptions developed in consultation with City staff.  The GHG emission reductions for some actions, such as many in Chapter 2: Land Use and Mobility, have been included in the modeling of reductions which can be achieved through the implementation of state and/or regional programs such as SB 375.


Chapter Seven, Adapting to Climate Change, provides a broad discussion of the topic of climate adaptation (i.e., actions that reduce the vulnerability of the built environment to the effects of climate change). Chapter Eight, Implementation, is primarily a summary of all of the emissions reduction actions included in Chapters Two through Six. The CAP also includes a list titled, What You Can Do! What Individuals and Businesses Can Do to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, for use by residents and businesses.


GHG Emission Reductions Achieved by the Plan: The City’s 2005 baseline GHG emissions inventory revealed that the transportation sector—primarily passenger vehicles—is responsible for 60% of Fremont’s GHG emissions. Building energy use and solid waste are responsible for 37% and 3% of emissions, respectively. Municipal services and operations account for less than 1% of overall emissions.


In order to meet the goal of a 25% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, the community would need to reduce GHG emissions by over 700,000 MTC02e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, a measurement that allows for the direct comparison of the impacts of different GHGs). This is referred to as the achievement gap in the CAP.  Like many local jurisdictions with ambitious reduction goals, the City will rely heavily on implementation by the State of California of a wide range of emission reduction strategies. One example of a state-level strategy is the Renewables Portfolio Standard, which requires investor-owned utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the energy provider for the City of Fremont, to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind), resulting in lower GHG emissions when customers use the energy in their homes and businesses. The City will also rely on the successful implementation of regional initiatives, such as Senate Bill 375 (SB 375), the nation’s first law to control GHG emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled through conscientiously-planned growth patterns.


It should be noted that while emission reduction estimates in the Plan were prepared by AECOM using industry-standard modeling software, these estimates are imprecise for many of the measures where data inputs are based on assumptions.  Also, some actions were not quantified at all, either because they are too general in nature and/or because AECOM’s modeling process was unable to generate emission reduction estimates.  Fremont is challenged by the same limitations in modeling GHG emissions faced by other jurisdictions seeking to determine how to achieve emission reductions in the most cost-effective manner possible.


It should also be noted that even with state and regional actions, the CAP does not get the City all the way to its 2020 goal.  The “achievement gap” of over 700,000 MTC02e still remains to be closed.  Achieving these additional reductions by 2020 will require new technologies, behavioral changes, or adoption of additional measures over the next several years.  


Changes to the Climate Action Plan Since April 3, 2012 City Council Meeting:  Changes to the CAP include deletions and modifications of several existing actions, and addition of new actions based on best practices. AECOM prepared estimates of potential greenhouse gas emission reductions for as many actions as possible. AECOM also prepared relative costs of implementing actions (along a low-medium-high continuum) for the public and private sectors, and described co-benefits to the community, such as lower energy bills and improved public health and air quality. This information is reflected in tables at the end of Chapters Two through Six.  AECOM improved the graphic design of the CAP to achieve a more professional appearance, commensurate with other important City of Fremont policy documents.


Staff also made minor text changes to ensure the CAP is up-to-date (for example, changing dates for legislation that was pending when the draft CAP was finalized in mid-2011 but has subsequently been adopted).


A.     Deletions in response to City Council direction:


1.            Deleted from Chapter Three, Energy:


E-A1.              Consider adopting Green Building requirements for commercial buildings containing energy performance standards more stringent than the most current California Building Code.


E-R3. With each successive State adoption of new building code standards

for energy efficiency, adopt a local ordinance for residential buildings

exceeding the State’s minimum standards.


2.            Deleted from Chapter 3, Energy and Chapter Five, Water:

E-R5 and W-R1: Consider adopting a residential energy conservation ordinance

(RECO), which would require energy assessments and implementation of

measures to reduce energy and water use at time of sale and/or other trigger points.


B.     Modifications and additions in response to City Council direction:


1.            Added to Chapter One, Land Use and Mobility: 


L-C1 amended to read:  Cooperate with regional agencies seeking to develop a network of fuel stations for vehicles using electricity, biofuels, and other non-fossil fuel energy sources, using the publication Ready, Set, Charge, California! A Guide to EV Ready Communities as a primary resource.


Discussion:  Ready, Set, Charge, California! A Guide to EV-Ready Communities provides guidance to public agencies on how to advance electric vehicle (EV) readiness in their communities. The guide describes standardized policies, ordinances and best-practices, providing a consistent framework for deployment of EVs and EV infrastructure, including information on signage, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, permitting and other key matters.


2.            Added to Chapter Three, Energy:


E-P6:  Provide support and incentives to increase residential energy efficiencies and partner with others to create tools and incentives to achieve this goal.


Discussion: This action was recommended by the Planning Commission in December 2011 and supported by the City Council in April 2012.  It aims to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency strategies, and to support efforts to identify and disseminate information about incentives which are, or may become available, to help reduce costs.


C.     AECOM’s additions reflecting ‘best practices’ in the field:

Based on their experience developing climate action plans, AECOM provided the City with the following five additional actions reflecting current best practices in the field of climate action planning. All are listed as short-term actions, for implementation in the time frame of 1-3 years from CAP adoption:


1.     Added to Chapter One: Land Use and Mobility:


L-A4: Encourage the reduction of single-occupancy vehicle use by establishing a commuter shuttle service program to connect local business districts to Amtrak, BRT, and BART stations.


Discussion:  This measure calls for collaborative discussions regarding local shuttle service.  If a viable model can be developed, it would result in reduced vehicle trips and greenhouse gas emissions.


2.     Added to Chapter Three: Energy:


E-A3:  Encourage the installation of energy efficiency retrofits by creating a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which allows qualified residential and non-residential property owners to repay the cost of installing energy efficiency retrofits on their property tax bill.


Discussion:  PACE programs help home and business owners pay for the upfront costs of energy efficiency capital improvements, such as solar panels, which the property owner then pays back over the long-term through increased property taxes. The City Council has already taken the necessary legislative steps to enable Fremont residents and businesses to participate in a PACE program; including this measure in the Plan makes clear the City will continue to support and participate in PACE programs.


E-P3:  Promote existing solar thermal programs, such as PG&E’s Solar Water Heating Rebate and the California Solar Initiative’s Thermal Program, to encourage the installation of solar hot water systems in existing and new residential and commercial buildings.


Discussion:  Solar water heating is a companion system that works in conjunction with the current water heater in a home or business to preheat water for household use, which saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The CAP previously did not have a measure specifically addressing solar hot water.


E-P4:  Facilitate the adoption of smart grid and other peak load reduction technologies, such as building energy management systems and smart appliances, within new and existing buildings. 


Discussion: Technologies that manage energy usage in buildings are evolving rapidly and hold the promise of greatly increasing energy efficiency.  Facilitating the adoption of these new technologies will lead to reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.


3.     Added to Chapter Four:  Solid Waste:


SW-A7: Institute programs for multi-family units to allow for the collection and composting of food waste and compostable paper where feasible.


Discussion:  The opportunity to compost food scraps and food-soiled paper is currently provided to single-family homes and commercial businesses in Fremont.  The City’s Environmental Services Division is currently conducting a pilot program regarding expansion of this service to multi-family complexes. This measure calls for continuing efforts to increase the diversion of organic waste from the landfill, which will result in reduced GHG emissions. 


Planning Commission recommendations: The Planning Commission considered the Climate Action Plan on October 25, 2012, and made the following recommendations to the City Council:


Approve the Climate Action Plan with the following changes:


1.     Amend action E-P6 in Chapter 3:  Energy, as follows:


E-P6: Provide support and incentives to increase energy efficiencies and partner with others in the private sector, such as real estate professionals, to create and promote tools and incentives to achieve this goal.


2.     Replace action SW-A7 in Chapter 4:  Solid Waste, with new language, as follows:


SW-A7:  Expand the existing food waste and compostable paper diversion program to include multi-family food waste and compostable paper diversion.

SW-A7:   Institute programs for multi-family units to allow for the collection and composting of food waste and compostable paper where feasible.


3.     Amend action W-C2 in Chapter 5:  Water, as follows:


W-C2:  Collaborate with Alameda County Water District to implement voluntary water conservation and reclamation programs. 


4.     Replace photographs of the electric vehicle on page 2-7 with a photograph of an electric vehicle manufactured by Tesla, and the photograph of electric vehicle charging stations on page 2-10 with a photograph of EV charging stations located in Fremont.


5.     Include an Executive Summary in the CAP which would reference the City Council’s adopted goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from the 2005 baseline by the year 2020 and the achievement gap described in Chapter One.


6.     Implement the PACE program described in action E-A3 of Chapter Three: Energy, with sensitivity to incentives and tax credits for maximizing consumer benefits.


7.     Explore options for providing electric vehicle parking in transit oriented developments.


8.     During implementation of the Climate Action Plan, leverage Fremont’s industry partners in electric vehicles and clean-tech to improve the Climate Action Plan and showcase Fremont’s local industries.


9.     Focus reports on quantitative measurements and achievement in as tangible a manner as possible.


10. Reformat the CAP by moving Chapter 8: Implementation, to the front of the document.


11. Present annual reviews of implementation progress on the CAP to the Planning Commission.


Staff comment:  Staff supports the Planning Commission’s recommended changes, with the following exceptions:


·         AECOM has estimated that making the formatting changes described in recommendation #10 would cost approximately $2,000.   Staff does not support this change, which would divert funds that could be used for implementation. 


·         In a separate agenda item, Council is considering establishing an Environmental Sustainability Commission.  Should Council establish an Environmental Sustainability Commission, staff recommends that it be the body receiving annual reviews of CAP implementation progress, rather than the Planning Commission.


Public Meeting:  As directed by the City Council in April, staff hosted a meeting on
October 17, 2012 to present the Proposed Final Climate Action Plan to the public. Six people attended the meeting, including members of the general public and representatives of the Bay East Realtor’s Association and the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County. Following a general discussion and question/answer session, participants requested minor amendments to the wording of several actions. These were provided to the Planning Commission and are included as Planning Commission recommendations 1-3 in the preceding section.


FISCAL IMPACT:  Based on the limited staff resources available to manage implementation of the CAP (currently 0.5 FTE), staff proposes a three-stage implementation plan through 2020. Staff would begin work on short-term actions in the first one to three years following Plan adoption; on medium-term actions in years three to five; and on long-term actions in years five to ten. Similar to the General Plan, the CAP is ambitious and not all actions can be achieved with currently available resources.  Staff will focus on those measures that are expected to achieve the most GHG emissions for the lowest cost, and that leverage other efforts and opportunities in the City and the region.


Implementation of many actions listed in the CAP will result in financial savings to individuals, businesses, and the City organization. While varying levels of financial investment will be required for some actions, the investments will yield a concomitant level of savings from, for example, reduced energy and water bills and, in the case of alternative fuel vehicles, reduced spending for transportation fuel. In some cases, reduced maintenance costs can also result in significant savings.  One example for City operations is the replacement of high-pressure sodium streetlights with LED streetlights, which require significantly less frequent replacement due to a longer operating lifespan.  AECOM prepared estimates of the relative cost (ranked low/medium/high) to the public and private sectors to implement the CAP’s actions.


ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW: Preparation of the CAP was considered in the General Plan Update EIR, certified by Council Resolution 2011-67 on December 13, 2011. No further environmental documents are required at this time.


Link to Climate Action Plan:



Document Comments


1.              Adopt the Final Climate Action Plan, incorporating Planning Commission recommendations #1 through #9; and modifying Planning Commission recommendation #11 to replace “Planning Commission” with “Sustainability Commission” if a Sustainability Commission is created by separate action.

2.              Direct staff to begin implementation of the Climate Action Plan.