Climate Talks Day 5: Green Business and Market Innovation

Climate Talks Day 5: Green Business and Market Innovation

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- Welcome, I think we're... If we can get to the next slide. I'll just want to welcome everyone in, to the Zoom meeting and we'll give a quick overview of what we're gonna touch on today.

We'll start with a quick CAP Process Update from the sustainability team. And we've got two amazing panelists here today to talk to you about buildings and energy, which is our topic. Then we'll have a few moments to answer questions that we've seen come in from the chat. And then we've got about 20 minutes for community discussion where we're happy for our panelists, or Rachel, or myself to answer your questions around buildings and energy and where we're looking at going ahead in terms of CAP measures. And then we'll close out by introducing you to the Platform, if you haven't already jumped on there, and tell you what's coming up next.

- All right, thanks Robbie. So Robbie is our sustainability assistant, and my name is Rachel DiFranco. I'm the sustainability manager for the city of Fremont and our community development department.

We also have with us a couple of guest speakers, Emily from Stop Waste and Becky from East Bay Community Energy. So there'll be speaking, after my quick introduction. So I just want to just start off by, you know, kind of going over what is the Climate Action Plan? It's a roadmap for some specific activities that the city of Fremont can undertake to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at a local level. Our first Climate Action Plan was adopted in the year 2012 and that set a goal for us to achieve a 25% emission reduction from a 2005 baseline by the year 2020. Now that it's 2021 it's time to update and we've actually, we have some numbers in terms of our achievements to date that you'll see, but we're, we have met our 2020 goals and are working toward deeper reductions now. To start us off in this process in 2019, the city of Fremont adopted a Carbon Neutrality Resolution that really sets the stage for Climate Action Plan update process.

So in that resolution city council set a goal of the city of Fremont achieving carbon neutrality, which means that we will produce no net greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2045 and an interim target of achieving a 55% emission reduction by the year 2030. In that resolution there was also put forth a Post-Carbon Community Framework that included some overarching values and strategies for how we can get there and that's the basis for moving forward with our CAP update. The values within that Post-Carbon Framework highlights some values that, you know, Fremont residents and businesses all really share. You know Equity and Access to, you know all of the solutions available to us for climate change and making sure that those are, you know, spread across the different groups within our community, as well as not increasing the burden for any one group in particular. Efficiency and Innovation.

Fremont is a very innovative community and we want to make sure that everything we do is as efficient as possible. Health and Wellness is obviously, increasingly important during the time of the pandemic and we also want to make sure that we're achieving a healthy community in terms of reducing pollutants locally, you know, air, water quality, those, those kinds of things and then resiliency and capacity building. We want to make ourselves stronger to anything that we might face in the future as a community and we wanna be able to do that together with all of the different stakeholder groups within our community. In terms of strategies, we're looking at, you know, a number of different ways that we can draw down our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce them to the point that eventually we'll achieve Carbon neutrality and we can do that through a number of ways, you know using clean and renewable power and moving toward all electric appliances and processes that can use that clean and renewable power and, and phase-out our fossil fuel consumption as much as possible and these are really the things that we're going to be focused around today in the conversation of buildings and energy. Some of the other strategies are sequestering carbon, drawing it down from the atmosphere looking at ways that we can, you know, move in our community in a more sustainable way, reducing our waste and conserving resources, looking at, you know, the ecosystems around us and how we can design in concert with nature and then also becoming a more resilient community.

And these are all things that we'll touch on in the climate talks for the rest of the week. So, if you are interested in any of these specific conversations please be sure to sign up for those. In terms of our greenhouse gas emissions to date, we have seen a decline in our actual emissions.

Our most recent inventory looks at the 2018 year and up until that point, we've actually exceeded our 2020 goal of 25% emission reduction and you can see by these different colored bars here one of the areas that we achieved a pretty dramatic emissions reductions actually in building electricity emissions. So we're still using very similar amounts of electricity but we've reduced the impact of that electricity consumption by using more clean power either from the grid or locally and we'll talk about that more today. You'll also see on this graph that we have some emissions reduction targets that we've looked through the year 2030 because our Climate Action Plan is really gonna be focused on the shorter term, the next, you know, five years up to 10 years, how can we reduce our emissions? And these projections here are based on what we see at the state level in terms of legislation that's already been adopted. So, if we weren't to do anything at the local and nothing was going to change from this point forward at the state level we would see some reduction in emissions, but not nearly to the amount that we need to achieve in order to protect our climate at the local and the global scale.

So what we're looking at, is what can we do more of at the local level and what can we do in partnership with regional agencies and state agencies to really get us to... Some and other, you know efforts like a streetlight upgrade, which we've done. We can look at ways to collaborate regionally, which is one of the reasons why we have brought to panel functional agencies like Stock Wastes and East Bay Community Energy that serve Fremont. We can also look at what's happening at the state and federal level and try to coordinate. Can everyone hear me? It looks like my connections choppy.

Robbie, can you hear me okay? - Yeah. It looks like we lost you for a moment but you came back. - Okay. I just didn't wanna keep talking if you're not gonna hear me. - You want to go back

to the previous slide, that'd be, I think there were a couple of things people probably missed or we can keep on with, with this slide. - On the emissions? - The one before this, the one before this one. Yeah. - Okay. Yeah. So the, the point here is that, you know, we're really looking toward our, our 2030 goal of a 55% emission reduction in our Climate Action Plan as we move forward. And, and what we have here in the projected emissions is what might happen at the state level based on existing legislation.

So we're trying to close this gap. Robbie, can you still hear me okay? - Yes. You sound good. - Okay. I just want to make sure cause everyone's video is a little choppy. So just keep me posted if I keep breaking up. - I will do that.

- All right. So, you know, I was touching on this. We can really close the gap through a number of ways at the local level through, you know things like incentive programs, recognition programs which is really, you know, helping people to move the needle on their own in their homes and businesses. We can also do things at the city level like adopting local ordinances and codes that help push in terms of new developments or, you know, retrofits. We can also look at, you know, our own city infrastructure and upgrading that in a way that supports the community.

And then we can work in collaboration with regional state and federal agencies to, to collaborate on either new policy or on programs that are going to support our community. And then finally, you know, all of this is going to come with a cost in terms of being able to implement programs or upgrade our own city facilities. So looking at funding mechanisms that can help support that so that our community, you know, is going to increase the capacity that we have rather than, you know, putting an additional burden onto residents or businesses. And as a stress in collaboration really is key here. You know, the city of Fremont is, you know, working as hard as we can throughout our various departments to increase our sustainability, but we really need to work with the community and with other public agencies to make this happen which is why having these kinds of conversations with the community is so important to us. - Rachel, we lost you again.

I can't hear you at least. - Yep. I can't hear her either. - Okay. Rachel, can you hear us? Sorry about this folks. - [Woman's voice] Sorry. - It would probably help a lot if she rebooted her whole computer system.

- Let's see. Let's give her one more moment to see if she. - She's not realizing it. - No, it doesn't sound like she's realizing it. - We can't hear you, Rachel.

We can't hear you. - Okay. Give her a second to reboot. I can go ahead and share my screen and pick up where she was speaking to you today. - Robbie, can you hear me now? I turned off my video.

- Yeah. Sorry. It looks like you were not there again. - [Rachel] Okay. - I'm sharing my screen now and I think this was the last place where we had you on collaboration is key where you were talking about working across different stakeholder groups. - [Rachel] All right.

Got to love the technical challenges here. So, so yeah, you know, just to reiterate it's really important for us as a city to work closely with the community and with other public agencies as we think about our Climate Action Plan implementation because we can't do this on our own and having agencies like Stop Waste and East Bay Community Energy that represent not just the city of Fremont, but other cities in our County are really important because they have resources to help us in our implementation efforts. So looking forward to hearing from them in just a few moments here. I also just wanted to mention, we've been doing a lot of outreach already. We had a big community workshop in September with 160 participants to kick this off.

This week, every lunchtime, we'll be having these climate talks on various different topical areas and then we'll be planning another workshop coming up on the topics of resilience, equity and really fostering those community connections further. Robbie, next slide. So we have our community forum, Considerit. If you go to some of you may have already participated in this. And if you haven't yet, we would love for you to participate after the session today or at the end of the week.

This is a way for you to weigh in on various possible pathways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. None of these are committed policy in terms of what may or may not go into the Climate Action Plan but these are things that we know, you know, our pathways some other cities have potentially taken on, you know, strategies that we see as, you know, ways to reduce emissions but we want to really understand does the community support these? Are these things that are going to be, you know viable and doable here in Fremont? So, you know, any feedback you have on these measures is really important to us as we, as we weigh them and start to prioritize what makes sense from an emissions reduction standpoint, as well as from an implementation perspective. Next slide.

All right. So we're going to jump into buildings and energy and I think I just have a few more graphs here and then we'll hand it off. So quickly, you know, I wanted to say that buildings are a really important sector for us to focus on when we're talking about emissions reductions and that they represent close to 30% of our total community-wide emissions based on our most recent greenhouse gas inventory. And you can see here, you know in the chart I showed earlier, electricity emissions have been tapering down over the last years as we've had cleaner electricity coming in from the grid and more people installing rooftop, solar systems. So the emissions associated with electricity are relatively low compared to the emissions associated with gas consumption in our businesses and in our residences. And every therm of gas consumption produces 11.2 pounds

of carbon dioxide. So this is really where we're looking at, how can we, you know, get as much clean power as possible coming in from the grid and from local renewables and then how can we start to move some of our gas processes to electric ones that can be supported by that clean power? Next slide. So, as I mentioned, you know, part of, part of this effort is looking at how do we get that low carbon electricity? How do we electrify? We also want to make sure we're using energy as efficient as possible.

And that's really the first and foremost thing to touch upon using high efficiency devices and managing our load and Emily from Stop Waste will talk more about that. And then kind of at the, at the end here, you know for anything that we can't easily fuel switch and and move toward electric appliances, we can look at low carbon fields, but this is really sort of a last resort, you know, for combustion processes probably in the industrial sector most heavily that maybe more difficult to electrify at least in the near term. Next slide. And finally, I just wanted to show you that our local capacity on the renewable side has been increasing pretty steadily over the last handful of years, doubling just some from 2016 in terms of the total solar, installed solar capacity. We have close to 50 megawatts of installed solar in the city of Fremont at this point in time. And this represents when you add in, you know the energy produced by solar, on, you know, behind the meter and then how much energy is being used in the grid.

It's now representing about 5.5% of the total electricity consumption in our community. Next slide. And with that, I'll hand it off to Emily.

I apologize for the technical issues. So we're a little behind on schedule, but we do want to make sure we have enough time for discussion. So Emily, take it away. - Sure. I'll try and go quick. Just cover some of these things so that maybe it sparks some questions.

My name is Emily Alvarez and I work for Stop Waste. Next slide. So who is Stop Waste? Stop Waste is a county-wide public agency with 17 member agencies which includes all the cities in Alameda County, the unincorporated County, and two sanitary districts. Our mission is to reduce waste and as our name implies you might've, that started with solid waste but since then we've expanded and now have programs that also include reducing energy and water waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I work on our build environment team and most of my work is focused on energy education and rebate programs, as well as Climate Action Plan support for our member agencies. Next slide.

So as Rachel mentioned, we need to get into what we call deep de-carbonization and really in order to reach our next set of goals. So many of our member agencies have Climate Action Plans. Rachel just talked about Fremont's, which is in the process of being updated as we just pass the state's first threshold for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

So in order to reach something like carbon neutrality by 2045, we have a long way to go. So the low hanging fruit has already been picked. And so for those next decades of climate action we have to go further which means kind of extreme energy efficiency reducing the building sector, energy intensity in all types of buildings, transitioning more and more to a clean grid. We've already done a great job of that but have further to go and then electrification. So switching end uses.

Gas is never going to be emissions free versus electricity has the potential to be that and so again, we, we unfortunately can't meet the targets for carbon neutrality without really switching over as much as possible and then offsetting any of those kinds of industrial uses like Rachel mentioned that we won't be able to electrify. That means building all new buildings that's all electric or as many as we can and retrofitting existing buildings to phase out burning of methane. And so today I'll concentrate on a little bit on energy efficiency and electrification but mostly try and leave time for questions. So next slide. Most of Stop Waste work on building energy is done through the Bay Area Regional Energy Network or BayREN. We're a nine County collaborative of all of the counties that touch the San Francisco Bay.

The stop waste is what's known as the part local partner or local County representative for Alameda County. And BayREN, serves local governments through codes, commercial programs, and residential programs. Next side. The kinds of local government support that BayREN provides, we work with local building department staff to increase enforcement of the energy code and support them with making sure that any permits that come through the cities meet energy efficiency requirements.

We also provide encouragement for the consideration and adoption of local energy policies, including breach codes. We also have great relationships with state regional and local governments and we can represent those local governments and concerns in larger conversations. That's one of the benefits of being a nine county collaborative is really that economy of scale and working together to have a little bit more lobbying power. We also, through being a regional agency can promote that consistency and best practices and adoption implementation. We do some of these through some net zero energy assistance that we can provide for municipal governments if they're looking for transitioning their own buildings to kind of net zero energy or electrification. We do a series of trainings and forums aimed at local government staff and create energy code tools.

If you go to the next slide, I also wanted to talk about our residential support through BayREN which is a very big part of our program. We provide a single family and multifamily programs with a large focus on education on energy efficiency and options for energy improvements. We have rebates for energy assessments and for energy upgrades including induction, stoves, installation, upgraded heating and cooling systems, new hot water heaters, et cetera. Multifamily works pretty similarly but we kind of focus on whole building retrofits which means we're mostly working with property managers or owners and not necessarily the individual renters and both programs also foster workforce development by creating a more of a market for energy upgrades and we enroll, work with and train contractors on these technologies and construction methods. Next slide.

So why are we doing this? Why is such a focus? I think Rachel covered a lot of this, but I just want to say that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions which we need to do since we're in a climate emergency there's a lot of co-benefits and really great things about energy efficiency and electrification, lower operating costs, there's health comfort and resilience co-benefits, indoor air quality improves when you have a tighter building envelope and actually also when you're not burning methane inside your home, it's a more comfortable home. It can be more resilient in terms of extreme heat or cold if you have a less leaky building envelope and if you are removing gas from homes and therefore gas pipelines then that is also beneficial from a resilient standpoint infrastructure, upgrades, earthquakes, et cetera. And when you're reducing the energy load that's better for the grid and that also helps us reach a 100% renewable energy more quickly because we need less of it.

Next slide. So the last one I have if any of this sounds really interesting to you here's some ways that homeowners can get started and learn more with what we have to offer and I'll answer any questions about Stop Waste, BayREN, building upgrades in general or what you as a homeowner can do. That's it. - Thank you, Emily.

And next up we have Becky (indistinct) from East Bay Community Energy. - Hello. Good afternoon, everyone.

Thanks for providing us an opportunity to be here and speak to you on a topic near and dear to my heart. I'm a program manager at East Bay Community Energy and I work in the local development programs team focused on energy efficiency and building electrification just for informational purposes, I also have colleagues on the other side of the department that work on transportation electrification as well. So I'm here to talk about what we do for buildings and can at least point folks in the direction for transportation electrification programs.

East Bay Community Energy is as we indicated, a joint powers authority. We are actually government agency. We were formed back in 2018 to basically provide the governments and the citizens and communities within our region an option for choosing where their energy comes from. So EBCE is a local power supplier. What that basically means is we contract with power providers to provide the energy that is delivered to your homes.

That gives us the opportunity to really emphasize having a clean, green, electricity portfolio. This is a little bit about our mission statement. Again, as a government agency, we are a not-for-profit.

What this means is that any earnings that are made on the sale of electricity in our service area are reinvested back into the community through programs like the ones that I administer. We can go to the next slide. So how does this work? We work actually in concert with the existing investor in utility that's PG&E in our service area. EBCE makes decisions about where the generation source of your energy and electricity supply comes from.

We work then hand in hand with PG&E to actually deliver that electricity to your home. So customers of EBCE are also customers of PG&E. We really rely on PG&E being there to help make sure that the energy distribution and delivery system works great.

So we really have a good partnership there with them. And then the energy goes to you, the end-use customer. We can go to the next page. Next slide, I guess.

This is just a quick snapshot of the service areas that are currently served by East Bay Community Energy. At this point about 97% of customers in the Alameda County region actually do get their generation services from us. So chances are, you are already our customer. In 2021, the cities of Pleasanton in Newark will be joining EBC. They've already joined, but they'll be receiving their electricity service from us starting in spring of 2021. And then the city of Tracy and San Joaquin County it's the first city outside of Alameda County that has voted to join our agency and will also begin getting service in 2021.

We can move forward. So briefly we have two primary product options. If you do nothing, you are generally opted into the bright choice product option.

We again are working to achieve a higher concentration of renewable energy in our generation mix than what was currently available through PG&E and for bright choice, we've also committed to keeping our rate lower than the comparable generation rate that PG&E offers. For those customers who want to go a little further, you can opt up and receive the renewable 100 product. The renewable 100 is 100% renewable product, primarily from in-state renewable resources.

And so it's a little more expensive than the incumbent option. It comes with that premium price tag associated with it but it is also a great way to, to participate in the renewable energy revolution. Particularly, if you don't have the option to do onsite solar or other distributed generation choices.

We can move forward. So I mentioned these benefits briefly, we don't have to spend a lot of time here, but that's a few of the advantages of having a CCA providing service in your service area. So I wanted to take a brief comment, I apologize that this slide is very small but I will say that this information is available on our website and was also mailed out to all customers of ours this past year. What this shows you is where actually we get the sources of power that go into our overall power mix. So it gives you a breakdown by generation type, for example, geothermal, solar electric, wind shows you the percentage of that product from each of our product offerings and compares that to what PG&E currently has in their generation mix as well.

This is something called the power content label. It's part of our information that we provide to the community so that there's some accountability for where our services are. What I also wanted to mention in bringing this up is that as recently as December, EBCE's board of directors recently voted to set a target for EBCE to have 100% carbon free electricity in our power mix by 2030.

This is 20 years ahead of the state targets. So we are really pushing ourselves as an agency to provide a hundred percent renewable energy, carbon free energy, as rapidly as we can for our communities. We can go on to the next slide from here.

So now I wanted to talk about a few of our programs and just briefly to put this back in the context of the really wonderful framing that Rachel provided. As we achieve our goal of having 100% carbon free electricity on our grid that means that the remaining sources of emissions really become the building energy use predominantly from natural gas consumption, fossil gas consumption on those buildings as well as the transportation electrification. So we really have an interest in attacking climate action by shifting folks to electricity so that now they can be benefiting from not 100% carbon free resource. One thing I hear a lot of people ask when we talk about shifting to fully electric is how that's going to impact the resiliency of their home and their ability to actually ensure that they're going to have that power, that they can get. One of the programs that we've launched to address at is this program, it's called Resilient Home. Through Resilient Home, we issued an RFP process to find a provider who was willing to offer a guaranteed rate for our customer base.

(indistinct) working to help those customers connect with our providers. So Resilient Home offers solar and backup storage for customers in our service area. You can get started by going out on our website, fill out a little web form. The website link is right here and that will start the process of getting a no cost, no obligation home evaluation, phone and video consultation with our provider and then you can go through and pursue if you're interested in, in following up with the project.

And one thing I forgot to mention is that Sunrun is the provider that we selected through that competitive process. Sunrun also will help access any other incentives that might be available through the state. For example, through the Self-Generation Incentive Program to help reduce the cost of your equipment. Can go to the next slide.

And again, because we are very focused on reducing that national gas consumption in our service area and moving to high efficiency, electric alternatives here are just a few of the programs that we offer currently. One major barrier to getting folks to actually take action around totally electrifying their homes is the idea that electric cooking is inferior to natural gas cooking and having spent many years dealing with those electric resistance coil stoves that I'm sure many of you are very familiar with, I understand where that perception comes from. So we're really working now to help folks understand a new technology. It's not really new. It's been around since the 1970s but it's not very adopted in California and that's induction cooking. Induction cooking actually relies on magnets instead of electric resistance or combustion of natural gas to generate the heat, to cook your product and what that means is that it's very rapid.

It's very clean and it's very safe. Induction cooking doesn't actually heat a surface it heats the pan directly meaning that for one thing when you remove the pan the surface is no longer generating any form of heat. And secondly, the cooking surface itself stays much cooler. So we think it's a really wonderful technology.

It's more controlled, it's healthier, it's more precise it's easy to clean and it's safe. It doesn't have the off gassing that you get when you're combusting natural gas in your home in order to cook something that contributes to poor indoor air quality. I know many kitchens don't have adequate ventilation. So that's something to keep in mind particularly when we have to keep our windows shut with these new fire seasons that we have.

So we're working on some programs to provide an opportunity for you to test induction so you can see if it's something that works for you. So pay attention to this website, link and follow back up and see what we're doing in that space. I know BayREN also offers rebates for induction technology as well. So that's a good thing to keep in mind for residential customers.

And then it looks like I'm getting advanced, that we did, I did just also want to make a quick note about a rebate that we have for heat pump water heaters. Just to catch you up with that technology very briefly, heat pumps are 300% efficient compared to the comparable natural gas, boilers, the best on the market are about 97% efficient. They're very high efficiency product and we're helping to get them out in the market by adding on top of the rebate, that's already offered through BayREN so BayREN has a $1,000 rebate. We're contributing a thousand dollars as well to the installer to bring down the cost by $2,000. And that's it for us.

Thank you. - All right. Thank you to our speakers. Now we're in our community conversation portion of our talk today. So I want to invite you if you do have questions or comments to go ahead and raise your hand so we can make sure we're just having one person talk at a time and then we can go ahead and (indistinct) you, and have you share your question. - And as we're doing that Robbie I think there were maybe a few kind of common themes we saw saw come up in the chat.

So maybe if we can just ask our guest speakers to speak a little bit on that, there were some questions around kind of multi-family properties and you know, how are, how are we working with property managers? So, you know, I think maybe Emily if you can speak a little bit more to that, that could be helpful. - Sure. So one question was the slide I had up said, we were prioritizing natural lit (indistinct) affordable units. And what that means is there's deed restricted and kind of rent controlled units where, you know prices are, you know, have to be affordable or are set by these other outside limits but there's also a section of naturally occurring affordable which is sort of just affordable most of the time because it's older or perhaps lower quality housing. So you can't charge as much. They need to be updated so people live in good quality housing but you don't want to upgrade those homes and because they're not deed restricted affordable thereby increase rents accidentally and displace tenants.

So it's a, it's a tricky market because we don't want people stuck in low quality housing but we also want people to still be able to afford where they're living which is why we've kind of targeted that tricky section for upcoming upgrades. We work with existing properties for the multi-family program I mentioned which is called, the Bay Area Multi-Family Building Enhancement program and I mentioned it just so that I can use the acronym BAMBE from now on. So the BAMBE program works with existing buildings and not new construction, because again we're trying to do energy efficiency upgrades. So we look at, like I said, a whole building approach. So envelope improvements, new windows insolation, lighting in common areas, but also you know, again, heating systems, hot water heating systems, things that would treat the entire building. And so since tenants don't have necessarily those individual controls in a multi-family setting we work with the property managers and property owners.

We've gotten national recognition for that program and have done thousands of upgrades. So there's still thousands of more to do in the Bay Area but we're kind of chipping away at it year by year. - [Robbie] Yeah. - Some other common themes I've seen come up is just, you know related to the question of affordability of some of the retrofit work that could be done in, you know a single family home and questions around, you know, how do how do people really reduce their carbon footprint if they can't afford to do things like install solar or buy an EV? And what are some of the opportunities for people who don't own their homes for renters or for lower income folks? So, you know, I think it'd be great if maybe both Emily and Becky could touch on that a little bit in terms of what their agencies are doing to help support that, that type of work.

- Yeah, it's tough. We've, we've partnered with Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, which do these greenhouse calls which are appropriate for renters and homeowners. And they will do more of the I don't want to say surface level things but things like changing light bulbs perhaps and installing a nest thermostat or a smart thermostat, water fixtures cause if you save water, you save energy and then of course working indirectly with renters through the multi-family program, we still we're also trying to do more kind of property manager tenant engagement as well, so that we're getting at both sides of that coin. For the single family program, you know, we work mostly with homeowners. Although if you were renting a single family property there's a high likelihood you might have a more personal relationship with your landlord, especially if it's not a big leasing company, then you might if you lived in a large multi-family property. So sometimes we do get those sorts of referrals from a single family renter who's gotten their home, the homeowner on board.

The BayREN single family program really is targeting middle income. There are government subsidized and federally subsidized low-income programs that are, you know just are structured in a different way. And so that since we're not duplicating those efforts we are focused a little bit more on a middle income, people who might be able to afford these improvements but need a little extra help either through the rebates or the financing that we do offer. And I did drop a line in the chat, which I can put again that we have a third party energy advisor and so we're a local government program. We're not selling anything.

We make money off of these upgrades. It's really about serving the public. So the energy advisor has trained on our programs of course, through BayREN, but they're also trained on other rebate incentive financing programs these low-income programs that are outside of BayREN. So if you really have questions about what might work best for you, I would suggest contacting those energy advisors. - And I can just add to that very briefly. I would agree only to note that renters are one of the most difficult when Emily mentioned earlier that the low hanging fruit has been plucked and we need to get more aggressive, I think we all in this space understand that strategies for unlocking that property owner occupant split incentive issue are important.

We're exploring the possibility of PPA style structures. I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone, but a lot of times when you get solar, you can have it on your roof but it's not necessarily owned by the home occupant it might be owned by the solar company, who then leases it to you through your contractual arrangement. This may unlock the ability of some spaces that are not owner occupied to access that kind of technology.

And we are exploring if that's something that we could apply to energy efficiency or building electrification as well so nothing yet, but stay tuned. The other thing I'll mention is we did work with a company some of you may have heard of called OhmConnect most recently to see if there's a way to add their service on to the Rising Sun program that Emily just mentioned. OhmConnect basically can help you install devices like programmable thermostats or automatic load control devices. Then in moments, when the grid is experiencing a power shortage, for example, this last August when we have brownouts, because there were more people demanding power than what we had scheduled to be provided on the grid, OhmConnect will actually trigger those devices installed your in your home to turn off certain powers to shed load as we call it, and then they'll pay you for you having participated in those events. So the OhmConnect program is a really neat way to basically get money in the pockets of individual consumers who are able to help the grid by shedding load during these events.

And we've been working with low-income customers in particular to offer this program, to see if it can help defray some of the impacts of being home all the time related to COVID. So that's a program that we just launched and is sort of wrapping up. We may do a second phase. - And I'll just add that on behalf of the city of Fremont we also have available, the Fremont Green Challenge Platform which is a way that you can sign up as a household to better understand your household carbon footprint and explore the different ways that you can actually reduce your footprint in your household whether it's through energy measures or water measures or waste measures, you know, looking at a variety of different approaches and you can sort the options, the different measures based on, you know the carbon reduction impact or you can sort them based on low or no cost.

You can also look at renter friendly options. And since we have a lot of very active youth in Fremont who are committed to sustainability there's also a way to sort the actions that are youth friendly. So, you know, things that you know, maybe a high school student or even a younger student could really help their household do without having to be the decision-maker in that household. So the Fremont Green Challenge is a great resource and we have a lot of these different incentive programs that are available for Fremont residents linked to the platform so if you're thinking about doing, you know a whole home upgrade, for instance, you know you can explore that.

And then, you know, you'll find the resources related to the BayREN programs that Emily was highlighting for instance. So I just wanted to make sure that folks were aware of that and we'll, we'll drop the link for the Fremont Green Challenge Platform in the chat as well. There's one person that has their hand raised.

So I want to give that person a chance to ask their questions, Tom Hanley we can unmute you and lower your hand. Go ahead and ask your question. - Okay. Thank you. I, I'm not adverse to all these. Two years ago I put solar in, but I am concerned about time, what the estimated costs for the different initiatives are. So on your survey online you have all these different things you (indistinct) you like to see but it doesn't tell the people, what is it going to cost? And I think it could change your answers is, one example, upgrade the electrical in the house at time of sale that could cost them over 10 to $15,000 when they sell their house.

And I think that's the type of information that needs to be included for you to have any validity on the survey. How can you start addressing that? Or how would you do that? - Thanks for your question, Tom. So the, the online forum is our attempt to to get, you know, opinions and ideas out of the community as much as possible right now. And we also have a technical consultant team that we're working with to help us with the greenhouse gas emission reduction analysis of various measures and to also look at, you know, what is the, what is the implementation feasibility and what are some of the costs that we are aware of for, for actually being able to make those implementation measures happen. So, as we dig into that, that, you know, technical analysis of the measures, we'll be looking at all of those factors.

And right now the input that we get from the community is really helpful in terms of a gut check in terms of what, what are people really excited about? What are people interested in? What are people seeing happen in other communities that they might want to see happen in Fremont as well or what are things that that people are really opposed to in our community that they absolutely don't want to see happen? You know, your example of the time of sale requirements you know, that, that is definitely a type of measure that we have seen various opinions on. And, and we know that the real estate community has not been very supportive of that kind of an approach just because it does put an additional burden at that time of sale on the person selling the home, the person, you know, working with those homeowners to sell the home a real estate agent. And so we, we recognize that some of the approaches to actually making these kinds of retrofits to our existing building infrastructure happen are going to be, you know more difficult to implement and so we're looking for as much feedback as possible and we really want creative solutions from the community.

So, you know, we, we really would love for you and others to share your, your comments, your opinions let us know what you think is the right approach and all of that is going to be factored in as we do this deeper technical analysis and really start to understand both the emissions reductions impacts, as well as the cost of those measures. - Rachel, part of the problem with it, my concern is you're going to do the survey, all the people, Hey, this is a great idea. You go in front of the city council and say, we have (indistinct) public support and you get started on it and once he gets started there's no way of stopping or turning it around.

And then when people find out my God that's going to cost me this, you know their excitement for it may, may, may lessen quite a bit. - I appreciate your comments, Tom. We are really working to make this as inclusive as a process as possible.

So as we do this deeper technical analysis we'll be sharing that information with the public. And this is not the only opportunity for people to provide their, their comments and their feedback. We'll, we'll have plenty of opportunity in the future as well.

We're not planning on doing this in a vacuum whatsoever. So appreciate that. We have another comment from, or a question a hand raised from B Noel. So we're going to go ahead and lower your hand and you can ask your question B. - It's, it's more of a comment. It is my understanding that even though it's called the Fremont Green Challenge, anyone in the Tri-City area can actually enter it.

Is that correct? Like if you live in Union city you can still be in the Fremont Green Challenge. - Yeah. So Platform is hosted in partnership with an organization called Community Climate Solutions. And we are actually one of the first cities to launch the platform, but there are a number of other cities that have partnered with them to launch platform as well.

And Community Climate Solutions is actually offering the platform for anybody in Alameda County and beyond to utilize. So yes, if you're in Union City or Newark you can also use the platform. - I think that's an important piece of information to distribute widely. - Great. Thanks for that feedback B. Are there any, is there anyone else who'd like to ask a question if you can raise your hand please so we know that. - Rachel, I did see a question for Emily around green roofs early on in the chat.

- [Rachel] Okay. - So Emily someone was asking if you could address kind of green roofs and how those fit in with some of these other housing related initiatives. - I, we, I know about green roofs from like my educational background but I guess I will just say that we don't provide specific rebates or technical assistance for green roofs necessarily. I mean, they can be a great tool for many reasons, they provide, you know less heat absorption than a dark roof. They can be more insulative. So you have less heating and cooling needs.

They can plant, you know, you can plant vegetation on them so that they sequester carbon, but it's it's not usually the same sort of technology that we would look at in terms of like insulation or replacing equipment since there's a lot more that goes into it in terms of like a retrofit for an existing building which is what most of our programs are. Cause you'd have to look at a lot of structural and water issues, but for new construction they can definitely be a great tool or even for rehabs, but it's, it's just a different section, different sector than we typically work in. - Yeah. I'll just add Emily that, you know, green roofs are a great way to reduce the overall carbon footprint of a building. And there are a lot of solutions that we're not talking about as directly here, because we're really looking at the energy end uses within the building.

But as we start to look at that deep de-carbonization that, that you mentioned earlier, we also want to start thinking about what are the materials actually going into the construction of new buildings or when buildings are being, you know retrofitted or when old buildings are coming down, you know, what's happening to those materials because all of those materials have a carbon impact with you know, within them. They've been, you know, manufactured at some point in time and if they're going to the landfill then there's emissions associated with that. As we're building new buildings, you know, there's a lot of embodied carbon in things like concrete and steel because it takes a lot of energy to produce those. So those are all strategies that we can continue to look at over time. And, you know, green roofs are definitely an option that can help reduce you know, the Urban Heat Island Effect.

They can help cool a home during the summer and keep it insulated, but they also provide that green space for people to be able to access, you know, if we don't, if we have, you know, bigger building footprints and smaller lot sizes as well. Green roofs are not inexpensive. They're, they're very pricey to install especially on a commercial application.

And that's one of the reasons why we haven't required them for new construction. We've looked at ways to increase the amount of solar on roofs and new construction for residential. And the statewide building code requires solar readiness for commercial properties. And there has been some discussions on, you know, how can we start to really think more in the direction of green roofs and utilizing roof space as a multifaceted space for you know, not only maybe solar production but also access to, you know, nature.

And so those are things that we can continue to explore in the future but right now there are, there aren't really any incentives that are available at least in California for, for that kind of effort. So probably more to come down the line on that one. It looks like we have another hand Begona Cirera.

Oh. And it looks like we have somebody raising their hand as well. So Caroline, we'll get to you after Begonia. - Hi, thank you for, for listening.

So sorry. I wrote a lot of messages in the chat but I have a different question, is the city of Fremont planning to do anything regarding, you know, one thing that I've noticed when a homeowner wants to upgrade their home to in, in essence lower their carbon footprint. One of the things that happens is that that alone you normally require permits to do any of those retrofitting and that also means that your value of your home is going to go up and then the value of the home goes up then also your property taxes go up which any kind of savings that you may have occured from, from retrofitting your house and making it more carbon friendly and so on to lower your carbon footprint it all goes out the window because you end up having to pay more on property taxes. I mean, it really, it's not like, you know, I'm against taxes but it's the fact that a lot of people, including myself can't afford higher taxes on property by, you know, wanting to do something good for the environment.

So is there anything, any talk about this subject because I think it will make a lot of people think twice about retrofitting their homes or making their homes more carbon efficient. Does that make sense? - [Rachel] Emily. - Rachel I can. - Yeah. You want to jump on that one Emily. I was going to ask if you wanted to comment. - Sure.

It's tricky it because of, Oh gosh, without going into the history of property taxes and California, because of Proposition 13 where our property taxes are largely capped or are capped at a certain rate increase every year, most of the time, these kinds of improvements won't increase the property taxes of your home even if the assessed value does go up because that assessed value really only changes significantly when a home is bought or sold. So you're right in the sense that if you do upgrades and then sell the house the kind of next homeowner would sort of front the costs of a lot of those improvements in terms of taxes especially when you're talking about like upgrading your hot water heater or your furnace you might get a letter or form from the County assessor because you pulled a building permit. And if you Mark those as a replacement they shouldn't affect your property taxes significantly. The same thing, even with putting in insulation or things like that, really the the big things that are going to impact property taxes if you already own your home are going to be like additions or if you add another bedroom or bathroom or those sorts of things. So most of these energy improvements really shouldn't make a huge difference on, on property taxes.

- So I just wanted to say, we're, we're getting really close to the end of the hour here. I know Caroline Harris had question. Is your question quick Caroline? Okay, go ahead and unmute yourself. - So my question would be, are you working hand in hand with the, the contractors and the people that sell these appliances? So like the hardware stores and the appliance outlets to make them available and to be the first choice when people come in looking for a new water heater or a new oven. - Emily, I think that one's all you.

- Sure. And maybe Becky too, as quickly as I can answer that. Yes and no.

We, we are working with contractors and we actually have certain rebates that are set up to actually the, when Becky mentioned the heat pump water heater incentive. We have a thousand dollars going direct to contractors to install these and then another thousand dollar rebate from BayREN direct to homeowner. So we're kind of trying to get it at those two different places because we do want contractors to be more familiar with the technology and to have it ready. So we're doing some kind of more upstream work as well as still the direct to customer in terms of out, like hardware stores and things like that, we're trying, it's a little bit new, we're getting, we're probably more successful in terms of the induction cooking in that right now than necessarily the hot water heaters. Although some of the traditional rebates we have, like for you know, we have for high, efficient gas appliances too which are pretty easy to buy for the newer technologies we're working on it.

We've been doing a lot of partnering with some induction cooking experts to, to get the word out there among suppliers. So if you have ideas please send them to me, but we're, we're doing our best. - [Caroline] Thank you.

- [Rachel] All right. So with that, we just wanted to highlight a couple of closing things. I did want to say there was a comment from David Starr to please consult a tax professional regarding home improvements that may impact your tax liability and I think that that's a really important factor here. The tax professional can definitely provide you a lot more information in this, in this space and, and make sure that, you know, you're getting the correct information. So with that, we just wanted to reiterate that we would love your participation on the platform.

The link is here for And please share your feedback, positive and negative. We want to hear what you have to say. We want your, your ideas if you think we've missed something, or if our approach or the approach that's being put forward on the platform is an approach that you don't think it's going to work and you have a better solution. Please continue the discussion. We'll have this forum open into February.

We'll probably close it at some point near the end of next week to make sure that everyone who participates in this week of discussion has a chance to, to, to make their comments. And finally, you know, we're in the phase of getting community input and incorporating that into our policies and measures really studying the impact of these measures from an emissions reduction standpoint from a financial perspective from an implementation perspective. And in the spring, we will be coming forth with some draft plan measures and really asking for additional community input before we develop a final plan and, and bring that forward.

So we have our sustainability commission that we work closely with on, you know, looking at various things related to our Climate Action Plan including the Climate Action Plan update. So a lot of discussion happening with our sustainability commission in the coming months around this Climate Action Plan. And there'll also be study sessions with city council. We'll be going to planning commission at some point as well before we get to the point of actually asking city council to take any action on this.

So lots of opportunity for additional, you know feedback from the community and incorporation. And finally here we have, this are, are kind of key ways that you can stay connected, the website for all of the information about the Climate Action Plan can be accessed at And then we, as I mentioned the last link there, the Fremont Green Challenge platform is available at if you want to explore the ways that you can reduce your own climate footprint. And we also have a newsletter that we put out on about a monthly basis where we highlight any initiatives that are happening in the community workshops, events that are maybe putting being put on by partner agencies, you know, anything related to our climate and sustainability efforts we try to highlight in that newsletter.

So you can sign up at or FGCNewsletter. And you can, if you also sign up on the Fremont Green Challenge Platform then you'll be getting that newsletter as well. So really appreciate everybody's time today and apologies again for my technical difficulties. Hopefully you were still able to get the gist of what I was trying to say early on in the presentation. And with that, we're just a few minutes after the hour. So thanks everybody for joining us at this lunchtime session.

And if you join us tomorrow, we'll see you again tomorrow.

2021-02-17 02:23

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