Climate and Energy Action Plans: Getting to Implementation

11.15.2012

Climate Action Plans (CAPs) and Energy Action Plans (EAPs) have become important planning tools for communities to articulate how they will meet energy, mobility, and material resource challenges in a carbon-constrained economy.

ESA has developed CAPs and EAPs for multiple California cities and counties to assist in compliance with regulatory mandates such as AB 32 and SB 375. These documents provide a detailed roadmap for communities (and their local governments) to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Typically, strategies to accomplish these goals include more efficient land use patterns (e.g., increased density, mixed use, transit-oriented development), better transportation systems, increased energy and water efficiency, more renewable energy generation, and landfill waste diversion. While CAPs and EAPs typically identify and prioritize specific policies and programs using robust cost-benefit analyses, many communities are finding the document provides limited value without a way to track plan implementation and monitor success towards the stated goals and targets.

In our current work with EAP and CAP, we help clients focus on the implementation by providing tools to track and monitor plan progress. These tools can help document specific program development milestones and key performance measures, such as program participation rates and GHG emissions reductions associated with specific strategies and goals. We are also helping clients develop tools that will help them evaluate the consistency of proposed development projects with their CAP. Under CEQA Guidelines § 15183.5, a plan-level GHG reductions strategy (i.e., CAP) that meets certain criteria can be used programmatically for CEQA clearance of project-specific GHG impacts. A CAP used in this manner provides clarity to developers and helps local governments ensure that their growth occurs in a manner consistent with their long-term goals and AB 32 and SB 375.

ESA continues to be at the forefront of CAP and EAP development by integrating climate change and other sustainability strategies into the comprehensive planning efforts of local governments. Our CAP and EAP clients include more than a dozen cities and counties across California and the western U.S.

For information on ESA’s energy and climate action planning services, contact Jeff Caton, PE, LEED AP at jcaton [at] esassoc [dot] com or at 415.896.5900.