Martinez has always been a leader in sustainability programs to reduce our impact on the environment.
That may seem like a strange claim, being the home to heavy industry such as Shell Oil and Eco Systems, but over the last several years Martinez has instituted programs and policies, both internally and externally, to make that claim.
In the early stages of my years in office as a city councilman, Martinez instituted an aggressive single-stream recycling and green waste program with the help of our solid waste hauler. Soon after that, we also rolled out a commercial recycling program.
Just recently that program was expanded to include other types of recyclables, including plastic bags. Green waste was expanded to include kitchen food scraps, soiled paper cups and plates, paper towels and compostable bags, and weekly pickup was added.
All city-owned buildings have been converted to energy-efficient systems and City Hall has earned a LEED certification.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, and is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. And just in the last few months we worked with PG&E to replace all streetlights with low-energy LED lamps.
Martinez was also the first city in Contra Costa County to install electrical charging stations in the downtown area. Stations are currently located at City Hall, the Amtrak station, and at Court and Main streets.
And now all residents of Martinez have a chance to help the city achieve recognition as the “Coolest City in California” and save energy and water at the same time.
The CoolCalifornia Challenge was recently announced by the Energy Upgrade California and is an initiative to help Californians take action to save energy and conserve natural resources, help reduce demand on the electrical grid, and make informed energy management choices at home and work.
It is supported by the California PUC, the California Energy Commission, utilities, regional energy networks, local governments, businesses and nonprofits.
The CoolCalifornia Challenge is a competition between California cities to motivate and reward residents for reducing their carbon footprints and build more sustainable communities.
With 22 cities vying for the title of “Coolest California City,” I upped the stakes by taping a video segment urging Martinez residents to accept the challenge. If you have a chance to take a look, please do.
Households in Martinez can join the CoolCalifornia Challenge by registering at CAChallenge.org. They can then track energy use and vehicle miles driven, as well as share energy savings tips to earn points for their cities.
The city with the highest sustainability points at the end of the challenge will be crowned “Coolest California City.” Two runner-up cities will be named “Cool California City,” and all participating cities will receive a portion of the $150,000 overall prize to help support local sustainability projects.
The participating cities include Claremont, San Mateo, Buellton, Indio, Burlingame, Long Beach, Elk Grove, San Carlos, Lynwood, Martinez, South Pasadena, Redwood City, Huntington Beach, San Pablo, Benicia, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Sausalito, El Cerrito, Fairfax, Larkspur and Richmond.
Current standings of the cities can be found at: http://www.energyupgradeca.org/CoolCAChallenge.
The CoolCalifornia City Challenge ends March 30, and the winning city will be recognized during Earth Week on April 21.
So come on Martinez, we can beat those other cities! And if you live in Clayton, Concord or Pleasant Hill, urge your friends and family that live in Martinez to sign up. As of Monday, we were in sixth place. Sign up and let’s win this thing!