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Program to Help Valley Cities Address Climate Change

November 5, 2010

Great Valley Center’s Green Communities Program to develop
greenhouse gas emissions inventories for Valley city governments

Quick Facts
  • The Great Valley Center’s Green Communities Program will use
    paid interns to inventory greenhouse gas emissions for local
    governments in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Cities that have signed on for the program so far include
    Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, Patterson, Oakdale Riverbank, Hughson,
    Waterford, Newman and Livingston.
  • In addition to helping cities plan for climate change, the
    program also gives them an opportunity to become leaders in
    sustainability, setting an example for their residents and
    neighboring towns.

A new program organized by the Great Valley Center — a
partner of the University of California, Merced — will offer
free assistance to local governments in the San Joaquin Valley to
help them develop an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions
and ultimately offer recommendations on how each city can reduce
the amount of energy used in its own operations.

The Green Communities Program, funded by PG&E and the
California Public Utilities Commission and implemented with the
help of ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability, will pay
interns from UC Merced, University of the Pacific and California
State University, Stanislaus, to work with staff members in
participating cities.

Thus far, cities that have signed on to participate in the Green
Communities Program are Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, Patterson,
Oakdale, Riverbank, Hughson, Waterford, Newman and Livingston.
Stanislaus County and the cities of Los Banos and Sanger are also
looking into the program.

The Great Valley Center interns will use meter information to
assess energy use while also interviewing city staff members about
solid waste management, sewage treatment, landfill emissions and
even commuting practices. They will then offer customized
recommendations based on the findings.

“The Green Communities Program works to equip local governments
with information to make better decisions about reducing greenhouse
gas emissions as they reduce energy consumption,” said Dejeune
Shelton, interim executive director of the Great Valley Center.
“The cities that are a part of this program will be able to use the
data to implement their greenhouse gas reduction goals effectively,
which will have a positive effect on their community’s quality of life.”

Many large cities in the Valley, including Sacramento, Stockton
and Fresno, have already started planning for climate change. But
smaller cities often lack the financial resources or staff time to
commit to these programs or hire consultants.

In addition to helping those cities plan for climate change, the
program also gives cities an opportunity to become leaders in
sustainability, setting an example for their residents and
neighboring towns.

“This will be an extremely valuable program for these smaller
cities in our Valley,” said Tim Fisher, the Great Valley Center’s
energy program manager. “In addition to revising development
patterns, city governments can lead by example and take steps to
reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle fleets,
landfills, wastewater treatment plants and administrative buildings.”

The program also furthers UC Merced’s overall sustainability
goals, which include raising awareness, understanding and knowledge
of sustainability within and beyond the UC Merced community by
enabling elected officials to incorporate sustainability in their
decisions and policies.

With the final list of participating cities nearing completion,
Fisher said the interns are likely to begin working with city staff
members next week.


James Leonard