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Board seeks energy savings

Ventura County supervisors urge staff to redouble efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find ways to cut down on waste.

July 25, 2007|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

Ventura County government's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, cut down on waste and save energy are commendable but more needs to be done, the Board of Supervisors said Tuesday.

Everything from installing solar panels on administrative buildings to changing how supervisors quench their thirst during meetings should be considered, county leaders said.

"We have to do something about these bottles," Supervisor Steve Bennett said, lifting his plastic water bottle from the dais. Similar bottles sat in front of the four other supervisors, the chief executive and the county's lawyer. "There are millions of these things going into landfills."

The hourlong discussion came as board members mulled how best to implement an action plan to combat global warming. In December, the board directed staff to recommend ways to reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere at its operations countywide.

Department managers Tuesday reported that much progress has been made. Increased use of hybrid and other high-efficiency vehicles in the county's fleet has eliminated 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas between 2001 and 2006.

Incentives for employees who share rides or use public transit have been in place for at least a decade. About $1.7 million in upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as lighting retrofits, will further reduce emissions and save money, staff told supervisors.

Fire stations, the Juvenile Justice Center and a planned expansion of the Todd Road Jail will all incorporate energy-efficient designs. Bennett lauded managers, adding "one of the best-kept secrets around here is how progressive Ventura County government has been.''

But it's time to take it to a higher level, the supervisors said.

The board unanimously agreed that county government should quantify how much energy it uses and pollutants it emits each year and set targets to reduce both by a specific date.

Reductions should be required from every department and monitored annually. And the county should form partnerships with the state, cities and regional authorities to work on reduction plans, the supervisors said.

Supervisor Linda Parks suggested a policy mandating that trees be planted in every city to provide more shade and reduce energy costs. Water conservation would also reduce emissions by cutting down on the amount if imported water pumped into the county, she said.

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