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Learn Why San Francisco Was Voted No. 1 Overall on Clean Energy Survey

By Stephen Brandofino

Executing and utilizing clean energy tactics and green technologies is no small task. When looking at this new implementation, local government officials will often find themselves at a crossroads. They are unsure of how to approach the rising environmental concerns while also dealing with practical factors such as funding and overall feasibility. 

The struggle of fiscal responsibility while also being environmentally aware is a delicate and difficult one that many municipalities struggle with. While we can all agree that a move to cleaner energy sources is better for all of us, the way in which we get there can be extremely difficult. 

The initial outlay of cash for these projects and technological upgrades can be a lot for any municipality to take on. Many local budgets are already currently stretched thin, and there isn’t too much room to roll out large scale environmental initiatives. On top of this, there are also issues stemming from gaining support, navigating bureaucratic roadblocks, and other factors that can slow down the implementation process. 

San Francisco serves as a glimmer of hope in this change. The city has been at the forefront of sustainable development, creating various initiatives to reduce emissions and promote renewable energy. Municipalities across the country can learn valuable lessons from San Francisco.

By prioritizing community involvement and education, local government officials can foster widespread support for sustainability efforts, creating change that will have a ripple effect for years to come. 

What Is Clean Energy? 

Clean energy refers to energy produced from sources that do not pollute the environment or contribute to climate change through the release of greenhouse gasses. These sources are typically renewable, meaning they are naturally replenished on a human timescale, and they minimize negative impacts on the environment. Clean energy is crucial for reducing carbon emissions, combating global warming, and promoting sustainable development.

Clean energy sources such as wind energy, solar energy, and hydropower offer numerous environmental and economic benefits compared to their fossil fuel counterparts. Economic benefits from clean energy can be seen through job growth, cost savings, and protection from energy price volatility.  

Learn more about Embracing Green Infrastructure in The Public Sector here. 

The Problem: Clean Energy Isn’t Prioritized 

While the country as a whole is making steps towards becoming fully reliant on clean energy, we still have a long way to go. According to the Department of Energy, over 20% of all U.S. electricity is generated by renewable forms of energy. The increase in this number should not be understated, but with that said, we have a long way to go. It is important to educate ourselves on the benefits and positive impacts that clean energy sources will have on humanity for generations to come. 

It is no secret that clean energy has not always been prioritized throughout the country. Even though there are clear benefits to clean energy, with its ability to hinder climate change and positively impact many environmental concerns, it will still take a back seat to more traditional energy sources. 

Largely due to its recent growing roots in the political sphere, the usage of fossil fuels can also be seen as more traditional. With the high costs of integrating clean energy into communities, the rift between the importance of switching to clean energy and the urgency of the global climate crisis continues to loom large. 

Like in many other cases, change needs to start from within our own communities. The environment needs to be prioritized through local government policy towards sustainability and decreasing our carbon footprint. 

Learn about the Do’s and Don'ts of Local Government Environmental Impact here. 

How San Francisco Implemented Clean Energy Solutions

As previously mentioned, one city that spearheaded the clean energy movement is San Francisco. San Francisco is widely regarded as a hub of innovation, with it being home to the famed Silicon Valley, and their fresh take on renewable resources may be one of the most important transformations of recent memory. 

From increased accessibility to a fresh take on transportation, local officials in San Francisco took the necessary steps to make their city a renewable energy one! Here’s how:

  • Increased Accessibility of Green Technologies 

San Francisco law makers have taken necessary steps to increase the ability for all citizens to enjoy green technologies. San Francisco offers numerous different incentive programs to encourage its citizens to adopt green technologies because let’s face it, not all citizens are up for the challenge right away. 

Some of these offers and incentives include programs to help low-income constituents repair solar panel systems at a fraction of the cost, a $1,000 discount on e-bikes, and tax incentives for utilizing clean sources of energy. Reducing the carbon emissions of everyday vehicles on the road or everyday electric usage in homes with the help of citizens made a huge difference in the clean transportation of San Francisco. 

Read GovPilot’s guide to Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling Strategy in Local Government Offices

  • Education and Outreach 

San Francisco officials took the time and necessary steps to educate their constituents on the benefits of implementing clean energy solutions.To many people clean energy is a fairly new movement, so educating the public was just as important as actually implementing clean energy sources. When citizens are engaged and feel like they understand where the government is putting time and funds, they are more likely to invest in the projects. 

With a priority on educational outreaches through public events as well as targeting specific sectors to demonstrate the benefits of clean energy, San Franciscans actively participated in the city's sustainability goals! Gaining constituent support is vital to making real change; helping citizens connect with their officials and community goals will unify your community. 

  • Fully Clean Transportation System 

San Francisco has worked to adopt a public transportation system that primarily relies on greenhouse gas-free electricity. Furthermore, local officials have inspired the movement to electric vehicles through things like rebates, accessible charging stations, and even free parking and toll discounts to EV drivers! 

Fostering a culture of innovation and green technologies in city planning has made it possible for San Francisco to fully transform to the top ranked clean energy city in the country!

Learn How Local Governments Can Embrace EV here. 

Charting Your Course: How To Achieve Similar Outcomes As San Francisco

Your local government can and should work towards becoming more energy-efficient, green, and eco-friendly. The outcomes for San Francisco speak for themselves, but here are a few ways you can replicate their success in your city!

  • Dedicate Funding Towards Clean Initiatives

Implementing clean energy sources takes funding; there’s no way around that. Local governments should be prioritizing budget funds, even by simply budgeting a “starter budget” to begin preparing for green infrastructure. Green or clean energy initiatives benefit the environment and often are more cost and resource effective once established. 

Consider local, state, and federal grants that may help your local government become more eco-friendly or kick-start a culture of sustainability in your community. 

  • Consult Experts and Stay Educated 

Experts in sustainability and clean energy know best on the most impactful and cost-effective clean energy solutions. Consult with professionals in these fields and allocate funds towards paying them for their services as they help your municipality plan and strategize to improve sustainability. Read up on recent trends in green technology, and ways that cities like San Francisco are implementing them for improved outcomes. 

Learn more about How Trenton, NJ Is Improving Citizen's Lives With Microtransit here! 

  • Provide Green Resources 

Green resources sometimes sound too advanced or daunting for local governments to be able to provide. However, this is not the case. Walkable, bikeable cities with ample sidewalks and bike lanes automatically see improved eco-friendliness and clean energy. Your municipality could provide citizens with bike rental options like CitiBike or scooter shares to encourage residents to travel in more sustainable ways. 

Even basic improvements to your community such as additional carpool lines and green transport options such as ride shares are a simple way to decrease your cities carbon footprint. Incentives for utilizing green resources (for businesses and citizens) can also increase the rates of green technology usage with simple solutions like solar panels. 

Learn about 13 Benefits of Digital Transformation for Local Government here! 

  • Educate Constituents: Eco-Friendly Practices

Oftentimes, constituents seek guidance on how to be eco-friendly but don’t understand the role they truly play. Make sure to implement awareness campaigns about how constituents can make small changes and a big impact on the environment at the same time. Educate constituents through social media, youth campaigns, and public meetings regarding reducing, reusing and recycling or topics like renewable energy.

Learn How To Run A City-Wide Clean Up In Your Municipality here! 

Implement Similar Improvements As San Francisco

As the need for clean energy sources becomes greater and greater, it is crucial for local government officials to learn from San Francisco's success story. By taking their strategies and implementing them into your own municipality, you can also achieve a more eco friendly community! 

There is a growing sense of urgency to move towards initiatives that will mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions. Municipalities have an interesting role to play in this migration as they contribute to these environmental changes through public transportation, waste management, and large amounts of energy consumption. Local government officials should look to take the first step in this movement. With this, they will not only reduce the carbon footprint of their community, but also spark broader change throughout neighboring communities and beyond!

With the help of GovPilot’s numerous software offerings, the transition to clean energy sources can be as seamless as ever. Book a consultation today to learn more about digital transformation in government and going paperless! 

Clean Energy Survey FAQs

  • Why is clean energy important?

Clean energy is very important for local governments to prioritize because it makes the difference in the health of our environment and communities. Every citizen should care about their environment and its natural resources; tap into this and inspire others to engage in clean energy practices. 

  • Why should local governments attempt to achieve clean energy? 

Governments have the responsibility to lead constituents towards environmentalism and set the tone for green technology usage. Due to this, it is very important that these local governments ensure their smaller communities are eco-friendly and sustainable; even small changes make a big difference. 

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Tags: Constituent Engagement, Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation