The What’s What of the 2021 Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee

In a previous article,* I focused on the “who” of the 2021 Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee. In other words, in that article I listed the 2021 Green Ribbon Committee members. In this article, I write about what work these Green Committee members anticipate taking on.

This anticipated work involves the Committee identifying big picture items on which it will focus as well as specific projects that support achieving the goals of these big picture items.

The Big Picture

The Green Ribbon Committee will focus on seven broad categories that the Committee refers to as its Work Plan. Also, three long-term subcommittees and City staff  have the responsibility of achieving the goals of the Work Plan. In addition, a temporary subcommittee will work on clarifying the goals of each item in the Work Plan and the responsibilities of the three subcommittees.

The Work Plan

The Work Plan, which is intended to be in effect for two-years, includes the following seven broad categories:

  • Strategy Energy Plan Update
  • Sustainability at the Great Park
  • Active Transportation and Mobility
  • Water Conservation and Management
  • Urban Forestry and Green Cover
  • Grants and Pilot Programs
  • Economic Development and Business-Friendly Initiatives

Subcommittees

The three Green Ribbon Committee subcommittees that existed last year will continue this year. Each subcommittee will consist of one or more Green Ribbon Committee members, and each subcommittee will work on projects that relate to items in the Work Plan. The three subcommittees are as follows:

  • Energy Resilience
  • Food Waste and Pollution
  • Green Infrastructure

Clarification of Strategies and Responsibilities in Completing the Work Plan

At the February 8, 2021 Green Ribbon Committee meeting , Irvine’s Environmental Programs Administrator, Sona Coffee, mentioned that the Committee could form a fourth subcommittee, if desired. The purpose of this fourth subcommittee would be to clarify the goals of the Work Plan as well as define the subcommittees responsibilities in achieving these goals. Allison (Kim appointee) stated some benefits in forming this fourth subcommittee, and the Committee unanimously voted to form this temporary subcommittee. The members of this subcommittee are TBD.

Current Projects

The Green Ribbon Committee and staff have completed or are currently working on various projects in support of advancing the goals of the Work Plan. These projects are as follows:

Sustainability at the Great Park

Work is in progress. Input is needed on matters such as shade, renewable energy onsite, EV charging onsite, and urban forestry.

Active Transportation and Mobility

City staff is working on this plan and will present it to the Planning Commission.

Water Conservation and Management

IRWD gave the Green Ribbon Committee a presentation last year. Coffee stated the Committee can invite IRWD back. This would allow the new Committee members to give input on their priorities regarding this issue.

Urban Forestry and Green Cover

Staff gave a presentation last year explaining the City’s current urban forestry policies.  Von Blasingame, Treseder, and Kim (Carroll, Member-at-Large, and City Council appointees, respectively) stated their interest in having more information on this subject, especially as this relates to fire issues.  In reply, Program Administer Coffee stated that staff will bring back more information on this to this new Green Ribbon Committee.

Grants and Pilot Programs

Bloomberg’s Mayors Philanthropy Grant: The City will apply for a Bloomberg grant that will award 15 cities $1M. Staff identified three possible areas of concern on which to focus the City’s grant proposal. Based on the criteria listed by Bloomberg Philanthropy, the Green Ribbon Committee selected  the option that related to reducing food insecurity and land emissions while creating jobs. Staff will come back with a proposal based on this food insecurity/land emissions/ job creation option. Deadline for this grant application was March 21.

Recycle-From-Home Pilot Project: In December 2020, CalRecycle approved a pilot beverage-container recycling program for Irvine. This program would involve a mobile unit collecting and recycling these items at the homes of Irvine residents. This mobile recycling program is anticipated to launch this month (March 2021). You can find more information on this program at recyclefromhome.com.  

Economic Development and Business-Friendly Initiatives

The purpose of this item in the Work Plan is to identify the ways in which sustainability reinforces economic well being. The Irvine’s Green Business Program is an example of this in Irvine.

Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment and Leaf Blowers

City staff gave a presentation on the City’s current policy at the November 2020 Green Ribbon Committee. The Community Development Department and Code Enforcement are reviewing current noise policy and will suggest changes.

Also of note: Programs Administrator Coffee will setup a special meeting for the Green Ribbon Committee in which American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA–https://agza.net/) and UCI representatives will provide input on the need for changes to current policies. The date for this special Green Ribbon Committee meeting is to be this month or early April.

Five-Year Awareness Program on the Benefits of Sustainability Practices

With the help of an outside agency, staff is developing a five-year sustainability education plan for Irvine residents and businesses. The purpose of the plan is to help Irvine residents and businesses understand and adopt practices that contribute to water and energy conservation, pollution reduction, recycling, and solid-waste reduction.

Strategic Energy Plan

With completion of this plan in November 2020, and the city council directed staff to move forward with implementation of energy resilience at city facilities. This plan can be viewed here.

Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

The City Council approved the scope of work for this plan at the end of 2020. As a result, staff has sent out a Requests for Proposal (RFP) to consultants to complete this plan. Staff will bring the results of the RFP to the city council this spring. Eventually, the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan will be part of the City’s General Plan Update under the  Safety section. Potential measures for inclusion in this plan can be found here

Community Choice Energy (CCE)

Community Choice Energy entities (CCEs) are energy providers in which the members of the CCE have local control over their energy sources and can authorize services specifically design to suit the needs of the local community. Although CCEs work in conjunction with the investor-owned utilities, CCEs also provide an alternative to the investor-owned utilities in sourcing energy supplies. Of note, the first CCE in California was formed in 2010, and, currently, over 20 CCEs operate in California. In addition, some California CCEs have expanded from the time they were first formed.

With input from the Irvine Green Ribbon Committee and other organizations, Irvine led the way in setting up a Community Choice Energy (CCE) entity for Orange County. This entity is known as the Orange County Power Authority and currently consists of the cities of Irvine, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, and Buena Park. More details about the Orange County Power Authority can be found at www.ocpower.org. In addition, the bi-monthly meeting can be viewed at this site, either in real time or at the time of your choice.

Recent Events

Paper Shedding at Lakeview Center: In January, residents brought 12.56 tons of paper to the Lakeview Center that was shredded in a mobile shredding unit.

Cleanup Day at Portola Springs: In January, residents brought unwanted items for recycling to the Portola Springs Community Center. These items consisted of 1.86 tons of waste and included many large items.

Upcoming Earth Day Events

The theme for Earth Day 2021 in Irvine is Restore Earth. Planned events are as followings:

  • An April 24 compost class at Quail Hill, onsite or virtual TBD
  • Individual community cleanup days planned
  • Tree planting kits for children and after-school programs
  • Online eco-pledges
  • Virtual workshops
  • More Earth Day events TBD

Note: The February 8, 2021 Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee meeting can be viewed here.

*The Who’s Who of the 2021 Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee

The Who’s Who of the 2021 Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee