Resources for Local Governments

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The resources provided below offer information to County and City Government and Community Associations on ways that they can alter facilities, operations, and procurement processes to reduce their carbon footprint; adopt climate change or sustainability plans and implementing ordinances; modify ordinances that are barriers to “greening”; promote awareness; host events; and engage in climate change impact mitigation (e.g., fire, flooding) and emergency preparedness.

  • Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Los Angeles pLAn for urban sustainability .
    “This pLAn sets the course for a cleaner environment and a stronger economy, with a commitment to equity as its foundation. These are the keys to a city that Angelenos have said they want our children to inherit — one that can continue to thrive and provide good health and opportunity for its residents. This is the way I view sustainability.” – Mayor Eric Garcetti

    Within the framework of three sections – Environment, Economy, and Equity – there are 14 topic chapters. Each chapter includes a preceding Introduction, Vision, and Long-Term Outcomes summary. Then the pLAn provides details on Baseline/Source, Near-term Outcomes, Strategies, and Priority Initiatives.

    The full plan can be downloaded from the L.A. Mayor’s website at

  • National Renewable Energy Lab has issued a report by Pieter Gagnon, et al, entitled, “Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the US:  A Detailed Assessment.”  This report quantifies the technical potential of PV systems deployed on rooftops in the continental US, estimating how much energy could be generated by installing PV on all suitable roofs. The results do not exclude systems based on their economic performance, and thus they provide an upper bound on potential deployment rather than a prediction of actual deployment. Although methods have been developed to estimate rooftop PV technical potential at the individual building level, previous estimates at the regional and national levels have lacked a rigorous foundation in geospatial data and statistical analysis. This report helps fill this gap by providing a detailed data-driven analysis of U.S. (national, state, and ZIP-code level) rooftop PV availability and technical electricity-generation potential.
  • The US EPA has released a new video, Green Streets: The Road to Clean Water.  Green streets are natural and engineered methods for controlling stormwater that would otherwise gather pollutants and rush them from hard streets into storm drains and out into local waterways. This video highlights green streets as a technique for managing stormwater and providing other economic and community benefits. Shown are examples of green streets in localities that have worked with EPA and other partners to incorporate green streets as part of their stormwater management plans. Green features shown include porous pavement, rain gardens, vegetative curb areas and sidewalk trees.
  • The EPA’s Green Infrastructure program has released a new report that summarizes tools, strategies, and lessons learned from green infrastructure projects across the country.  The report, Tools, Strategies, and Lessons Learned from EPA Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Projects, is a quick reference guide that matches problems with real world, tested solutions and offers readers resources for further information. The report also includes a handy guide to technology and a table of benefits that you can share with potential collaborators and stakeholders.
  • SCAG has launched REVISION, a Regional Data Analysis and Visualization application, along with the UCLA Lewis Center. With a range of metrics related to accessibility, livability, employment, and health, REVISION helps both professional planners and stakeholders without a technical background monitor the progress of the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, a plan to improve environmental sustainability, social equity, and public health. Users can use the site to answer hundreds of questions about regional and neighborhood change, including:
    • Are more people near Metrolink stations using public transit to get to work versus 5 years ago?
    • Where are there redevelopment opportunities in walkable areas near jobs and high quality transit?
    • In which areas is poverty increasing?
    • Which areas are well served by transit and have access to open space and healthy foods?
  • The Beacon Program is a statewide program that provides support and recognition to California cities and counties that are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and adopt policies and programs that promote sustainability. The Beacon Program provides a framework for local governments to share best practices that create healthier, more efficient vibrant communities. The program honors voluntary efforts by local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and adopt policies that promote sustainability.
  • Sedaru produces software for water utilities to operate more efficiently, including addressing millions of gallons lost to water main breaks, needs to drive water conservation and faster, more proactive response to water loss events.
  • Global Inheritance employs technology, the arts, and experiential learning to generate excitement and inspires people to act responsibly and become forward-thinking leaders within their community.
  • California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA has launched its new LA Energy Atlas.  This interactive website maps energy use data across LA County at the neighborhood, city and county scale across a range of indicators, including building type and age.
  • Green communities is a five-step program developed by the EPA to help local governments in environmental planning activities. Each step includes an introduction, quantitative tools, related case studies and frequently asked questions.
  • The EPA offers support to local governments looking to expand their vegetation-based stormwater management systems.
  • The EPA also released a 2009 report titled “Planning for a Sustainable Future: A Guide for Local Governments,”
    which covers a wide range of environmental topics. This report also contains a best practices appendix and a measuring success appendix, which contains the tools that local governments use to track the progress of their environmental projects.
  • The US General Services Administration’s Sustainability in Action page hosts a collection of best practices and strategies that local governments can adopt to reduce their environmental impact.
  • The Cool California Local Government Toolkit helps local governments to “identify cost saving actions, financial resources, and case studies to assist local governments with achieving GHG emission reductions.”
  • CalEnviroScreen is a screening methodology that can be used to help identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution.CalEPA has used the tool to designate California communities as disadvantaged pursuant to Senate Bill 535.
  • The Council for Watershed Health has released a new dataset to help improve stormwater management. The dataset will assist planners, watershed managers, and stormwater and water quality compliance teams tasked with identifying and prioritizing projects to improve stream and ocean water quality, and enhancing stormwater capture for supply in the coastal watersheds of Los Angeles County.
  • The Institute for Local Government has put together a collection of Sustainability Best Practices, including areas like water and wastewater systems, green building, and recycling. The best practices can be found broken down by category at the above link or the entire PDF can be downloaded here.
  • Local Government for Sustainability USA is a consortium of local governments that work together to foster energy efficiency, sustainable resource use, and climate preparedness. This site also has a news ticker with stories about actions taken by local governments across the nation.
  • Cal-adapt gives local governments access to resources and scientific research that can be used to inform development plans that will take into account predicted changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and wildfires.
  • Can California further reduce urban water use? is a post in The California Water Blog. It compares California’s current drought to a drought in Australia and provides useful takeaways for policymakers. The Australian example suggests that the most successful water-saving techniques were outdoor water use restrictions, dual flush toilets, and higher water prices.
  • allows local governments to study the environmental incentives employed by local and state governments across the US.
  • With the current drought, communities and residents across California are looking for ways to conserve water. The Institute for Local Government has a collection of water and wastewater best practices that local governments can implement to conserve water, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help secure water resources for the future.
  • Sacramento Approves Urban Farm Ordinance.  Buying locally sourced fruits and vegetables in Sacramento may soon become as simple as walking over to a neighbor’s garden, thanks to a new urban farm ordinance passed Tuesday night by the Sacramento City Council.  Read the full SacBee story at the title link.
  • For examples of sustainability practices employed by local governments, visit

Visit the Grants, Rebates, and Incentives  for information about securing federal or state funding for environmental projects.

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