Editor’s note: Cindy Moore, Sustainability Director for the City of Goleta, describes her city’s efforts to implement more environmentally-friendly practices.

As a coastal town surrounded by the ocean and the mountains, preserving our natural resources is one of Goleta’s core values. The City Council has made being “green” a priority with our “Go Green Goleta” initiative, the hiring of a sustainability coordinator and most recently applying for the California Green Communities certification.

The California Green Communities (GSC) is a statewide environmental recognition program that fosters innovative ways for participating cities and counties to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adopt policies and programs that promote sustainability.

The program requires the completion of activities in ten sustainable best practice areas based on guidelines in the Institute for Local Government’s (ILG) Sustainability Best Practices Framework. A community is publicly recognized for its achievements as it meets certain requirements to reach Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels. Award levels are granted based on the progress made in each area.

The best practice areas are listed below:

  • Energy Efficiency & Conservation
  • Water & Wastewater Systems
  • Green Building
  • Waste Reduction & Recycling
  • Climate-Friendly Purchasing
  • Renewable Energy & Low Carbon Fuels
  • Efficient Transportation
  • Land Use & Community Design
  • Urban Forestry & Carbon Offsets
  • Promoting Community & Individual Action

A distinguishing characteristic of the California Green Communities program is the participation of CGC’s partners, who are available to provide considerable expertise and guidance to participating cities seeking to meet their individual goals.

The first step toward achieving the California Green Community designation is to create and submit an Action Plan addressing the ten key sustainable best practice areas listed above.

To this end, staff from a variety of City departments worked together on an initial inventory to consider each subject area and identify actions already undertaken, current programs and those which are planned for and new initiatives that could be pursued. The program is designed to be linked to existing or planned efforts, with no additional fiscal impact (unless so desired by the participating jurisdictions).

With formal Council support given at the September 3 City Council meeting, the next step will be to finalize the Action Plan tailoring it to Goleta’s individual community needs and resources. The City will then submit the Action Plan for peer review by other participating jurisdictions. It will also complete the various activities identified in the Action Plan.

Certification as a California Green Community is awarded when at least one (Silver), two (Gold), or all three activities, with at least one having community-wide impact (Platinum), are completed in the Action Plan in each of the ten sustainable best practice areas, and upon peer review by the other participating cities.

The City’s participation in the Program is important for a number of reasons. First, from a practical standpoint, the Program provides a framework or structure around which to organize most of the City’s “green” activities. It also showcases the City’s existing efforts to save energy and promote sustainability while recognizing the efforts of numerous City staff who are implementing a multitude of environmental programs. It provides opportunities for the City to learn and share best practices from jurisdictions throughout Southern California and allows Goleta to lead by example. Goleta’s environmental leadership demonstrates that it is contributing to larger efforts to create a sustainable community. Finally, participation may also have the added benefit over time of increasing the City’s competitiveness for future state or other grant funding.

Goleta is pleased to be a city dedicated to creating a sustainable community and looks forward to receiving the California Green Communities designation in recognition of our efforts.

View the ILG’s Best Practices Framework here.