Santa Barbara Case Study: City Action on Efficiency, Renewables, Transit and More


Learn what the City of Santa Barbara is doing to save energy and further sustainability in its community in this case study. Highlights are shared below:

The beach town of Santa Barbara has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through an innovative use of technology and green policies for employees.

To help produce the energy needed to operate its waste water treatment facility, the city has worked with the El Estero Waste Water Treatment Plant to install a cogeneration engine unit. The engine captures heat generated by the various pieces of equipment and produces energy used to power the machines. Compared to a coal burning unit, the cogeneration engine reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 3,056 tons per year, equal to removing 578 passenger vehicles from the roads.

Santa Barbara has worked hard to convert city vehicles to more sustainable means of operation. There are nearly 200 vehicles in the fleet ranging from biodiesel to hybrid electric, compressed natural gas and ethanol fuel. In addition, the city has been able to sell four cars due to a vehicle carpool program that encourages ride sharing. The city also sends employees to driver’s education training to improve fuel efficient driving.

Commuter benefits, such as free local transit passes and commuter subsidies for longer trips taken on public transportation, are offered to city employees to encourage alternative methods of transportation. The city offers an annual safety classes and free helmets to bike commuters along with Bike Station memberships and bicycle tune-up subsidies. Through the Work Trip Reduction Incentive Program, over three million commuter miles have been eliminated by employees since 2007.

What actions is Santa Barbara taking to conserve energy?

In order to conserve energy, street lights in Santa Barbara use high-pressure sodium lamps while offices have switched to using fluorescent and LED lighting inside. During a city sponsored free energy audit, 568 businesses replaced 800 traditional incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and 1,300 incandescent lights with LEDs, reducing energy use by 90 percent.

Energy efficiency has saved the City approximately $150,000 per year. Learn more here.

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