A Bright Future for the City of Irvine: Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Accomplishments

Posted on December 12th, 2012 by

The City of Irvine, a master-planned community, is a leader in environmental stewardship and sustainability, integrating resource-efficient measures into municipal operations and community programs.

Foundation of Irvine Energy Efficiency Efforts

In 1992, Irvine was the first city to establish the Irvine Energy Efficiency Initiative, a city-utility partnership with Southern California Edison and the Energy Coalition. Over the years, the partnership expanded into a regional effort that now includes the cities of Brea, Corona, Culver City, Irvine, Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Santa Clarita and Santa Monica, along with Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company and the Energy Coalition. The Community Energy Partnership is funded by Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas under the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission.

Recognizing the benefits of the partnership, the Irvine City Council adopted a 20-year Energy Plan in 2008 which focuses on increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The cornerstone of the Energy Plan is to involve businesses, residents, visitors and schools with the City leading the way by example.

Municipal Energy Efficiency Efforts

Irvine has implemented numerous municipal energy efficiency projects that save 1,792,280 kWh, 33,156 therms and an estimated $328,626.70 per year:

  • HVAC system replacement and building management system, HVAC controls installation at City Hall and Lakeview Senior Center
  • Lighting upgrades at community park facilities and two child care centers
  • Sports field lighting replacement at municipal sports complex facilities
  • Pool heater and pump upgrades and pool cover replacements at two municipal pools
  • LED traffic and pedestrian signal upgrades and LED parking lot lighting installation
  • Bi-level lighting installation at the Irvine Train Station parking structure
  • Energy information management system to monitor and report municipal electricity, natural gas and water usage

Funding for these projects included $2.28 million from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. By implementing these energy efficiency projects, Irvine has received over $171,000 in utility rebates. These system-wide energy efficiency projects are designed to save both energy and money, enabling the City to be a good steward of public funds.

Community Energy Efficiency Efforts

The Irvine community has also contributed to a six percent reduction in community energy usage, saving 150,662,725 kWh, despite a seven percent increase in customer accounts as Irvine continues to grow.










* Irvine Energy Plan adopted by City Council

To support community energy efficiency efforts, the City updated key planning and building guidelines to include updated energy efficiency standards, provided training and conducted widespread community education campaigns.

The City conducted the Brighter Future for Irvine campaign, distributing 90,000 CFL bulbs to Irvine residents, which saved 1.3 million kWh of electricity and $210,000. This campaign was awarded the Green California Leadership Award for its grassroots efforts to educate the community about energy conservation. The City also provided training for building owners on Portfolio Manager software and provides ongoing training in partnership with utilities on energy efficiency best practices.

Other Sustainability Efforts

Irvine is a leader in many areas of sustainability including open space, green building, recycling and waste management, transportation, water, and community outreach and education. The following are key Irvine policies that support a sustainable community:

  • 1987 – First residential curbside recycling program implemented in Orange County. Through this and other subsequent waste programs, Irvine’s diversion rate is over 70 percent, which is 20 percent above the State requirement.
  • 1988 – Open Space ballot initiative passed by Irvine voters, preserving more than 20,000 acres of open space, conserving 12,070 acres of wildlands and 8,266 acres of urban open space.
  • 1990 – Sustainability in Landscaping Ordinance adopted, requiring productive landscapes that mitigate air pollution. To complement the ordinance, a Sustainable Landscaping Design Guidelines Manual was developed to assist landscape architects with preparing landscape plans to meet ordinance requirements.
  • 2005 – Municipal Green Building Policy adopted, which requires  all new municipal buildings over 5,000 square feet be LEED certified or above. To date, this includes University Community Park (2010), Cypress Community Park (2012) and Northwood Community Park (2013).
  • 2006 – Commercial Green Building Program adopted, the first in Orange County, which encourages developers to voluntarily implement energy efficiency measures for new development. In 2009, Irvine enhanced the program by adopting the California Green Building Standards Code nine months ahead of the State’s deadline.
  • 2007 – Zero Waste Resolution adopted, which encourages the use, reuse and recycling of materials judiciously and focuses on elimination of waste and pollution in the manufacture, use, storage and recycling of materials.
  • 2008 – Construction and Demolition Ordinance adopted, which requires developers to divert at least 50 percent of construction material/debris from the landfill.

Irvine also pioneers new sustainability programs and implements best practices:

  • The City has made a significant financial investment and community commitment to lead the state in meeting federal and state regulations for clean air. The City’s fleet consists of 60 CNG and nine gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles, including converted pickups, dump trucks, forklifts, asphalt paving trucks, and passenger buses.
  • The Irvine Transportation Center is a regional transportation hub, connecting to Amtrak, Greyhound, Metrolink, iShuttle and the ZEVNET program. The iShuttle offers routes connecting Irvine’s two business districts with the Irvine and Tustin Train Stations and has served more than 440,000 passengers since 2009.
  • Irvine was recognized as the first bicycle-friendly community in Orange County and also took first place in the 2011 Orange County Transportation Authority’s Bike to Work Week Challenge, with over 18,789 bicycle miles pledged.
  • Irvine utilizes reclaimed water to irrigate 98 percent of its common landscape and proactively protects water quality in creeks, bays, and the ocean by requiring developers to adopt best management practices for development.
  • Irvine education and outreach program utilizes online tools such as its award-winning website, a quarterly electronic newsletter, and social media to publicize programs, environmental news, and events.
    • Irvine offers free programs in partnership with businesses, community groups and Orange County for recycling including Sharps Disposal by Mail program, CFL Mailback kits, and Oil Filter Exchange events. Free waste audits are available for local business to reduce waste disposal costs.
    • Four food dehydrator machines were placed at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, Irvine Marriott, Atria Golden Creek senior living community, and the City’s Lakeview Senior Center to test food dehydrator technology. The Lakeview Senior Center machine has reduced the volume of food waste by 95 percent, diverting more than 13,000 pounds of food waste from landfills, and producing more than 1,000 pounds of reusable compost that is used at the Lakeview and Rancho community gardens.
    • University Community Park and Cypress Community Park feature photovoltaic panels, and solar compacting garbage cans are installed at community park and pool facilities. The City has streamlined its permit process for solar PV and hot water heating installations and eliminated solar plan check and permit fees.
    • The Department of Energy recently selected Irvine’s Great Park as the host of the 2013 Solar Decathlon.

For more information about Irvine’s sustainability programs, please visit www.cityofirvine.us.

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One Person has left comments on this post

» Penny said: { Mar 4, 2013 - 02:03:42 }

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