Contra Costa County, CA

This submission reflects this organization's contribution to the climate effort, representative of their current actions and commitments as well as the ways in which they intend to step up and collaborate with others.

Contra Costa County, CA's Climate Action Contribution

About Contra Costa County, CA's Climate Efforts

Contra Costa County adopted a Climate Action Plan in December 2015. The Climate Action Plan will be updated over the next two years as part of an update to our General Plan. The County has robust programs that address solid waste and energy efficiency. We are developing implementation plans for a Complete Streets policy adopted in 2017. We collaborate regularly with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, an important partner because vehicle emissions are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in our County.

Specific projects we are working on that will increase our contribution to the broad goals of We Are Still In include:
* A Renewable Resource Potential Study that will identify the potential in the County for renewable energy, particularly wind, solar, biomass, and biogas. While the County’s zoning ordinances encourage the installation of renewable energy for use on a residence or business, the ordinances that apply to energy generated for commercial purposes allow only wind. (It’s worth noting that the County issues about 1,500 permits each year for rooftop solar on homes.) The Renewable Resource Potential Study will assess opportunities for solar, wind, biomass, and biogas resources in the unincorporated County and on facilities owned or leased by the County. It will identify changes to County zoning ordinances that would be helpful to accommodate deployment of renewable resources while prioritizing the highest and best use of land, particularly areas that are used for agriculture or parks, or identified as habitat conservation areas.

* Electric Vehicle Readiness Blueprint. The County and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority will develop a web-based mapping document that will be available to the general public, local jurisdictions, and other stakeholders. It will map EV chargers throughout the County, as well as potential locations for shared mobility centers that could host EV fueling centers for a variety of vehicles, including fleets, transit, autonomous vehicles, electric bikes, and personal vehicles. A cornerstone of the Blueprint will be a tool box that provides best practices and policies for local governments regarding chargers, model developer requirements and ordinances, and strategies for how to price charging for different types of vehicles. The Blueprint also will look at the electricity grid and demand to determine where additional transmission and/or distribution capacity (or reductions in demand for electricity) are needed. Additionally, the County and the Transportation Authority will work with the Workforce Development Board and the Pittsburg Unified School District Adult Education program to develop a training program for people who want to install electric vehicle charging equipment and service electric vehicles.

* Cleaner Contra Costa. Cleaner Contra Costa is a two-year pilot program launching Fall 2018 to encourage and empower Contra Costa residents to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions based upon the “Go CO2 Free” online platform developed by Community Climate Solutions (CCS). The program will focus on enlisting participation of residents in the cities of Antioch, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek, as well as the unincorporated portions of the County. The platform will inform residents about effective actions they can take to reduce their GHG emissions and track their progress in doing so. Partners to this project include the cities of Antioch, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek, and Sustainable Contra Costa, a non-profit organization, as well as 511 Contra Costa and other non-profit and community groups. The goal of the project is to achieve the participation of at least 4,500 households in the project during the two-year period and to quantify the reduction in GHG emissions as a result of the actions taken by residents who utilize the platform.

Climate Action Commitments

Current Climate Actions Contra Costa County, CA Is Taking:


Purchase renewable power or build on-site renewable electricity to run local government needs

Powering your own operations with renewable electricity or using local government buildings and land to site solar PV panels is within the decision-making authority of most localities and can be a model to your community.


Replace fleet vehicles and buses that run on fossil fuels with vehicles that run on electricity

Electric fleet vehicles, especially buses, have a range of benefits that make them an excellent investment for local government use. Cities are coming together to spur innovation amongst manufacturers and use their collective purchasing power to drive down cost.


Increase energy efficiency of local government operations, such as buildings, street lighting, and water or wastewater plants

Energy efficiency is the best way to save taxpayer money and cut climate pollution right now. The average building wastes about a third of the energy it uses. Consider implementing a strategic energy management plan for all major operations.


Work with energy utilities to increase renewable energy provided to residents and businesses

Going beyond the local government’s own operations to make renewable energy available to your community is a challenging, but critical step that means working with utilities, state government, and your residents. Clean, renewable bring with them better air, predictable, increasingly lower customer pricing, and local job deployment opportunities.


Adopt policies that accelerate the transition to electric vehicles for commercial fleets and personal vehicles

Electric vehicles for personal and commercial use are, along with automation, a major trend coming to scale quickly. The proper infrastructure to support EVs will be critical to capture their benefits. Consider partnership with the largest local commercial fleet operators to pilot new ideas.


Adopt policies to reduce carbon footprint of new and/or existing buildings

Building electricity, heating, and cooling at the community-scale is, with transportation, the other major source of carbon emissions. Strategies will vary between single-family homes, multi-family residential housing, and commercial buildings. Conducting energy audits and using benchmarking is an excellent tool to drive efficiency. Incentive programs for energy upgrades can be done effectively the more buildings that participate.

Climate Action Plan

New Climate Actions Contra Costa County, CA Commits To Take:


Increase rates of walking, cycling and public transit through means accessible to all residents

In many communities, the transportation sector is the largest share of their pollution and getting people to use alternative modes of transit to the personal vehicle comes with a myriad of benefits, not only cutting greenhouse gases.


Give all residents in my community, especially those underrepresented or of marginalized groups, a voice in setting policy and action plans

Plans, strategies, and their implementation should include the input and priorities of the community. Having your residents’ support and involvement will lead to better long term solutions. Simply holding an open public hearing is not sufficient for the inclusion of all residents. Many methods exist for successful community engagement.

Areas For Collaboration

We are interested in collaborating on the following:

Electric Vehicles
  • Aggregating demand for electric vehicles with other actors
  • Promoting increased charging infrastructure

Local Collaboration
  • Collaborate on climate and clean energy action, and to advocate for stronger climate policy at the local level
Other collaborations
I think the list above overlooks a key source of emissions: vehicles. This agenda does not seem to address the realities of suburban lifestyles that are prevalent in the U.S. I would be interested in collaboration on increasing support for and use of transit and looking at land use policies.

Organization details

Contra Costa County is one of the original 27 counties in the State of California, incorporated in 1850 with the City of Martinez as the county seat. The County is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Contra Costa County's physical geography is dominated by its extensive waterfront on the San Francisco and San Pablo bays and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These waterfront areas are home to heavy industry, including active oil refineries and power plants. The eastern part of Contra Costa County has a robust agriculture industry which is important to the County’s economy and identity.

The most notable landmark in the county is Mount Diablo, rising 3,849 feet at the northern end of the Diablo Range. It is the centerpiece of Mt. Diablo State Park, one of many recreation areas residents and visitors can enjoy. The East Bay Regional Park District is comprised of more than 100,000 acres within 65 parks, including more than 1,200 miles of trails
Martinez, CA