The County Voice

San Mateo County First to Win Full Beacon Award

This week San Mateo County was honored at CSAC’s Annual Conference as the first county to win the full Beacon Award! San Mateo is new to the Beacon Program this year, but its leadership in sustainability has been years in the making. In 2007, the board of supervisors adopted a resolution to support the US Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration which set the county on a path to setting goals and monitoring its success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the years, San Mateo County has adopted innovative programs which have become models for other local governments to follow. One example is a Telework Program which has helped San Mateo County reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with employee commutes. Currently, more than 25-percent of county employees are commuting by public transit and/or working a flex work schedule. The county even created a Telework Tool-Kit to help educate other local agencies on the benefits and challenges of alternative work schedules.

There is a spirit of collaboration and partnership in San Mateo, especially around sustainability and resource conservation. The County of San Mateo’s Office of Sustainability manages its Energy Watch Program, which has helped many cities establish greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans, and helped nonprofits, schools, businesses, farms and lower income residents implement energy efficiency projects. San Mateo County is now exploring whether to establish a community choice aggregation program, which allows local governments to create their own energy portfolios that rely more on alternative sources like wind and solar and less on fossil fuels.

Along with the silver-level Beacon Award, San Mateo County received Beacon Spotlight Awards for the following accomplishments:

  • 5% savings in agency electricity use,
  • 7% savings in agency natural gas use,
  • 8% reduction in community greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • 15% reduction in agency greenhouse gas emissions.

San Mateo County has also reported more than 60 completed sustainability activities in ten best practice areas, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, green building, land use and efficient transportation.

From small commitments to large-scale initiatives, San Mateo County continues to explore new and innovative ways to be a more sustainable community. The Institute for Local Government would like to congratulate San Mateo County for becoming the first county to achieve a Beacon Award!

About the Beacon Program:

The Beacon Program provides a framework for local governments to share best practices that create healthier, more efficient vibrant communities and honors voluntary efforts by local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and adopt policies that promote sustainability. Find out more!

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