Working collaboratively to advance effective climate change solutions
Improving the quality of life in the Monterey Bay region is at the heart of what we do at the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, and for the past five years, MBEP has worked with our member organizations and community partners to boldly address the big challenges of our region. We do that by looking at the region’s needs, what’s being done, and where our targeted approach can make the most difference.
Right now, one of the main dynamic forces facing the region is climate change, an issue that affects regional well-being, from our economy to the air we breathe and how we live. This is why MBEP is launching an initiative to address climate change, an issue interwoven with every single thing on our agenda to date: housing, transportation, technology, and workforce development.
From housing and land use policies, wildfire risk, sea-level rise, transportation corridors, and vehicle emissions, to energy grid infrastructure and corporate responsibility, the policy choices and individual actions will in many cases require regional dialogue, a coordinated approach, and collective action.
As conveners and catalysts for change, we recognize that regional collaborations and leadership will be key to advancing effective climate change solutions.
- Climate Action Plans
- Support member-driven climate action planning outreach efforts to local jurisdictions
- Support the development of tools and resources with members and key stakeholders
- Research funding opportunities and assist with regional climate coalition capacity building
- Housing Initiative
- Continue housing advocacy around enhanced bonus density ordinances and local policy changes to encourage transit-oriented housing in the Monterey Bay
- Support and encourage member developers and key partners to adopt climate-resilient infrastructure (e.g. building electrification, passive solar, EV charging stations, bike storage, etc)
- Share “Blue Paper” findings and recommendations such surveying water use & impacts on new housing, expanding conservation & greywater systems, and implementing / relaxing water credit transfer programs.
- Energy Efficiency + Sustainability
- Work with members to promote alternative energy programs and resilience-building strategies (e.g. electrification, recycling + reuse, green purchasing, green business certification)
- Advocate for the creation of more Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and microgrids, and a regional Open-Access Distribution Service Operator
MBEP Members Speak Up
Our member organizations are taking bold actions to address climate change, and their collective insights and contributions are vital to tackling a bigger issue than any one organization can solve.
Nearly 90% of respondents, in our recent member survey on climate change, expressed concern about the impacts of climate change on our region and are already taking action in energy efficiency, green energy alternatives, recycling, and reuse, transportation incentives, reduction in single-use plastics, emissions reduction targets, and climate action advocacy.
Respondents unanimously expressed interest in taking action on energy efficiency and recycling and reuse, followed by green energy alternatives, transportation incentives, green purchasing and supply chain adjustments.
MBEP is currently working with several member organizations in the areas of emissions reduction targets, energy efficiency, transportation incentives and climate action advocacy, and more than 70 percent of member respondents are interested in collaborations that address climate change.
As we do with each of our key initiatives, MBEP will continue to raise awareness, to share examples of the work that’s already being done to address climate change and sustainability, build intersectoral capacity and engagement, and increase innovative and practical solutions to achieve our core mission, ‘to improve the economic health and quality of life in the region.
To view our Member Survey Results, please click here.
Our Members Show Collaboration Works
Taylor Farms + City of Gonzales
Taylor Farms’ Gonzales processing facility had existing wind and solar components, but they functioned independently of each other. The goal of the microgrid and cogen project was to integrate these existing distributed energy resources and add firm power to form a microgrid system that could effectively take the facility off the grid. Their solution involved creating a partnership with Concentric Power where they installed an intelligent microgrid controller to integrate and optimize all Distributed Energy Resources, including the addition of a 2.0 MW cogen unit that the company developed specifically for the site. By integrating solar, wind and cogeneration, Taylor Farms saw a reduction of 12,190 metric tons of CO2 emissions in one year, a 94 percent decrease from before the microgrid was completed. This is equivalent to the GHG emissions from 2,588 vehicles driven for one year. Learn more here.
San Benito Health Foundation + Greenpower
In 2017, Rosa Vivian Fernández, CEO of the San Benito Health Foundation (SBHF), visited Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria where she saw healthcare facilities unable to care for patients when they needed it the most. Rosa and her board determined they’d never let anything similar happen to their community. SBHF formed partnerships with Greenpower, a division of Santa Cruz nonprofit the Romero Institute, and the Aromas Progressive Action League (APAL) to help manage their transition to become fully energy independent in case of a natural disaster. In August 2019, new solar panels, retrofitted lighting, an ultra-efficient HVAC system, and a bioethanol generator turned SBHF into the first healthcare facility in California to run on its own zero-carbon microgrid. As Greenpower states, “When the grid goes down because of a wildfire or high winds, SBHF will be open. When PG&E, Northern California’s electric utility, resorts to blackouts — as it recently has — SBHF will remain open. No matter what, SBHF will remain open.” Learn more here.
City of Santa Cruz GoSantaCruz Transit Program + Ecology Action
GO Santa Cruz is a collaborative transportation program between the City of Santa Cruz, Ecology Action and local businesses which provides downtown employees with commute alternatives to single-occupant car trips. Incentives include:
- FREE transit passes
- FREE bike locker cards preloaded with $20
- Discounted JUMP memberships
- Carpool incentives
- Commute information and carpool ride-matching
- Bike safety training
Santa Cruz is a national leader in reducing single-occupant car trips by supporting and promoting other means of travel. They have the second-highest rate of bike commuting in the United States and have won more than $21.5 million in competitive grants for projects to improve biking and walking, including the Branciforte Creek Bridge, Arana Gulch Multi-Use Path, and projects to improve safe routes to schools. Beat the traffic, save your gas money, get some exercise and enjoy your commute by biking, walking or taking transit for some of your daily trips. Learn more here.
City of Greenfield + EAH Housing
The Farmworker Housing Study (FWHS) of the Salinas and Pajaro Valley found that farmworker housing in the region is severely overcrowded. The FWHS Action Plan has a 5-year goal of producing 5,300 units of farmworker housing to help stabilize the agricultural workforce. The City of Greenfield and EAH Housing, a nonprofit that develops, manages and operates affordable housing for underserved communities, partnered to develop 222 units of permanently affordable, year-round housing for farmworker families. The development will be 100% income and rent-restricted, serving a range of income levels, from 25% to 70% of area median income (AMI) household featuring garden-style apartments, a community building, a recreation and play area, indoor and outdoor common areas, and a community garden. The project is pursuing LEED Gold Certification and is designed to offset 100% of the property’s energy consumption with on-site renewable sources. Learn more here.
Monterey Peninsula College + CSU Monterey Bay
Living in one of the most beautiful regions in California means we attract a lot of attention – Monterey County alone sees 4.6 million visitors a year. There’s no wonder the tourism, hospitality and recreation industry is one of the largest in the region. Rethinking hospitality as a sustainable practice is becoming an increasingly urgent matter, as the threat of climate change is not a passing trend. An ever-growing number of consumers are becoming more vigilant when it comes to their purchases and the expectations they have of the business they patronize. Our higher ed institutions, Monterey Peninsula College and CSU Monterey Bay, have responded by developing a 2+2 career pathway program in Sustainable Hospitality Management. The core of the program focuses on “sustainability plus”, going beyond sustainability to address issues around ethics, equity, the environment and profit. Students gain hands-on knowledge and skills needed to pursue careers in hospitality, including hotels, restaurants, resorts, festivals and events, eco-tourism, attractions, and eco-recreation. More information on local climate-related career pathways can be found on MBEP’s Workforce Development Initiative online resource, Monterey Bay Career Connect.