City's energy conservation yields 15% reduction

Mark Somerville
Maintenance Services Manager
City of San Clemente, California

In response to the California blackouts, Governor Gray Davis requested an Energy Conservation Pledge from all Counties, Cities and Special Districts as a part of the "State of California Energy Conservation Program." The pledge was an effort to reduce electrical consumption by fifteen percent, versus last fiscal year 2001/02, to help avert or reduce an estimated 260 hours of expected Stage 3 Alerts or "Rolling Blackouts" during the summer months. In response to this request, I developed a policy and procedure document for the City of San Clemente at the direction of City Manager, Mike Parness.

Based upon early summertime results of various Capital Improvement Projects of the previous fiscal year—most importantly, a complete change-out of all City traffic signal green and red incandescent lights to LEDs—the City was able to meet the fifteen percent reduction without implementing this policy and procedure document. Aiding with this fifteen percent reduction was City staff's voluntary assistance with work patterns concerning the conservative use of office lights, computers and monitors (turning them off when not in use), closing facility doors, optimizing occupancy sensor usage for internal lighting, use of high-demand equipment only during "off peak" times, etc.

Following are sample paragraphs from the City of San Clemente's in-house developed energy reduction policy and procedure document.

Appoint an "Energy Coordinator" (the Emergency Planning Officer) to communicate with the State and to coordinate energy efficiency and conservation actions in your facilities. The Energy Coordinator will serve as the primary point person for communication with the State, the League, CSAC, and the CSDA on energy matters and to coordinate energy saving actions within the local government and in the community. Use the online Energy Star tools and resources software program provided by the State for City buildings, to obtain historic consumption data from investor-owned utilities, to access a template of energy efficiency and conservation programs, and access policy options that may be implemented at the local level.

Evaluate the energy performance of local government office buildings using the Energy Star online performance rating system and encourage local businesses to do the same. The Energy Coordinator shall use Energy Star's online rating tool which will calculate energy use in a building or a group of buildings, providing a baseline against which to measure the effects of additional energy efficiency improvements. The Energy Coordinator will compare the energy use in local government office buildings and therefore determine which ones should be targeted for energy efficiency upgrades. The Energy Coordinator will identify buildings already performing at a high efficiency level due to recent upgrades or energy efficient construction. The City will implement an action plan as indicated in 6.0 Procedure (below). The Energy Coordinator will also develop and implement additional short- and long-term energy efficiency improvements that can then be documented with the rating tool.

Signage shall be developed by Maintenance Services, Facilities Maintenance, for entrances and customer service areas of City facilities, informing the public that the City is doing their part for the State's energy crisis, by reducing energy use, to the extent possible. Due to this effort, the public can expect higher temperatures and reduced lighting. City facilities such as 910 Negocio, in the Community Development/Public Works Departments, the Community Center, City Hall, Utilities Division and Maintenance Services Division facilities, and City recreational facilities shall display this signage.

City shall develop a program to solicit energy saving ideas from employees and reward those ideas resulting in validated savings.

For City recreation buildings, i.e., Community Center and Ole Hanson Beach Club, the room temperature shall be allowed to reach a minimum ambient temperature of 68 degrees or higher during the summer and a maximum of 70 degrees or lower during winter months, based upon the specific needs of activities, events and rentals. These variances in room temperatures are provided due to the high athletic action and occupancy activities, events, and rentals that create excessive heat and humidity. Because of these high-use activities, events and rentals, more latitude is needed to provide an enjoyable environment and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the occupants.

It is my hope that this draft document will serve to assist other cities, counties and special districts with practical suggestions for their facilities, should the need for extensive energy conservation impact them. For a complete copy of the draft policy and procedure document contact Karen Bloodworth of the American Public Works Association at (816) 472-6100 or at

To reach Mark Somerville, call (949) 361-8317 or send e-mail to