On April 26, the city of Santa Monica chose to formally support a new Energy Upgrade California (EUC) campaign via a letter signed by Mayor Ted Winterer.
A reboot of the previous EUC initiative, the Do Your Thing Campaign focuses more on encouraging California residents and small businesses to change their energy consuming behaviors such as switching their light bulbs to LEDs or turning off lights in rooms not being occupied, in order to reduce statewide carbon emissions.
“EUC is a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency,” said Garret Wong a Senior Sustainability Analyst for Climate & Energy at the City of Santa Monica. “The program began as a means to promote whole-house efficiency, rather than looking at individual systems (lighting, HVAC, insulation, etc.). EUC has repositioned itself to be more about behavioral changes. It serves as a platform for the City to promote conservation behaviors.”
The Do Your Thing Campaign was inspired by the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, which focuses on acquiring 50% of California’s electricity from renewable resources and doubling the energy efficiency savings for natural gas and electricity by the year 2030. Launched on April 26, 2017, this initiative reinforces the goals of the original 2011 EUC initiative that is facilitated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) by focusing on individual’s energy consumption behaviors rather than promoting general energy management concepts, energy efficiency actions and clean energy opportunities.
“Energy efficiency benefits all California residents and businesses, and has saved Californians $65 billion since the 1970s. When Californians save money on their utility bills, they have more to spend in the local economy,” CPUC President Michael Picker said. “We lead the nation in energy efficiency, but we can do more. If we each all do one more thing to save energy, it will allow California to burn fewer fossil fuels and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions, creating a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous state.”
Although traction lacked for the original plan, the Do Your Thing Campaign has gained the attention and support of 29 cities and over 60 community business organizations within the first four months of its initiation. Included in these 29 cities is Santa Monica that, prior to the publication of this campaign, already had multiple plans in place to achieve citywide carbon dioxide reductions.
“Santa Monica has a Sustainable City Plan (SCP), which sets goals and targets for environmental, social and economic sustainability areas,” Wong said. “The SCP sets near term greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, but does not have actions associated with it.”
In 2013, the city publicized the 15×15 plan that aspired to reduce Santa Monica’s carbon emissions 15% below 1990 levels by 2015. After exceeding their goal by 5%, the city quickly formulated a new plan that strives to achieve carbon neutrality for the city by 2050 or sooner. Although these plans talk about the behaviors of the general public, by throwing support behind the Do Your Thing Campaign the city hopes to further encourage individual resident’s commitment and involvement in reducing the city’s carbon footprint.
“This [campaign] is supplemental to the City’s efforts. We won’t know the efficacy for a while. The challenge is being able to track and attribute change as a result of the campaign. How will we know people made certain changes based on this program/website/messaging?” Wong said. “Climate change and other sustainability challenges affect us all. And we all can be apart of the solution. A lot of people think that what they do doesn’t matter. But think about one person’s impact using a plastic bag every day and then multiply that by hundreds of thousands of people doing the same thing. What if we all used reusable bags instead? We need everyone to do their part!”