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[caption id="attachment_11722" align="alignright" width="97" caption="David Brennan, Regional Climate Protection Coordinator for Sonoma County"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – Former Sebastopol City Manager Dave Brennan has come out of retirement to help coordinate efforts by Sonoma County governments to meet looming deadlines for reducing greenhouse gases.

As climate change program coordinator for the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, Mr. Brennan is helping the nine municipalities and the county complete their climate action plans called for under state law, take the Solar Sebastopol program countywide as well as expand the county’s new programs for renewable-energy production and energy-efficiency capital financing.

“My role is to look for these opportunities to expand the programs so not everyone will have to reinvent the wheel,” Mr. Brennan said. “What’s helping drive this is the interest of the federal and state governments to have funding for these things, and they want to see a regional approach.”

One component is the Santa Rosa-based Climate Protection Campaign’s recently released Community Climate Action Plan, which sets forward ways to meet the goal Sonoma County governments agreed to several years ago to reduce emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015. Another component is the county government’s plan to offer energy-efficiency upgrade financing via property tax payments under a system allowed under last year’s Assembly Bill 811.

“It’s a fairly complex portfolio that now exists in Sonoma County,” said Rohnert Park councilman and transportation authority Vice Chairman Jake Mackenzie.

Mr. Brennan’s position started in March and is similar to coordination efforts started mid last year in Napa and Marin counties under one-year grants from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

In the past two years that Marin County governments have been trying to coordinate efforts to control climate change, two organizations have formed as a result and are planning to bring more renewable power and electric vehicles to the county as well as reduce emissions tied to the built environment.

That effort includes creation of local climate action plans, according to Richard Schorske, climate action director for one of the groups, the Marin Climate & Energy Partnership. Seven cities and towns drafted a common plan in March and will be considering local versions through this year. San Rafael last month became the first in the county to adopt one.

“They discovered that of all the greenhouse gas emissions for which San Rafael can be responsible, only a small proportion are within the control of the city to do anything,” Mr. Schorske said. “And the piece most in the city’s control are buildings.”

The city already has a green-building ordinance that includes energy efficiency and applies to larger retrofit projects. Now the city and the other local governments are looking at how to include more retrofit projects to increase efficiency in existing structures, according to Mr. Schorske, co-founder of the energy partnership, a coalition of Marin governments plus local transportation and water agencies.

Local government officials have formed Marin Green Building Energy Retrofit and Solar Transformation Task Force, or Marin BERST, to coordinate green-building guidelines to increase standards for new construction and retrofits.

The energy partnership has teamed up with Marin Energy Authority, made up of most Marin governments, to see whether they can adapt Sonoma County’s approach to AB 811 financing for property owners to undertake the retrofits.

The Napa County Transportation & Planning Agency board, which includes officials from the valley’s governments, is set to consider at its June 17 meeting the results of a nearly yearlong effort to inventory emissions from the jurisdictions and create a model climate action plan that can be tweaked for local use, according to Executive Director Paul Price. The Climate Protection Campaign has been assisting the effort through the contract program coordinator.

“Before you begin to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gases, you have to find out what is the level of emissions and what are the subcomponents of that,” he said. “Once you understand the issues for each region, you can begin to take steps with various capabilities for emissions reduction.”

Those efforts could be weatherization for homes and reducing vehicle miles traveled through vanpooling, bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares, according to Mr. Price. Another major component could be an electric-vehicle initiative in the works with the Sustainable Napa County program and the addition of eight gasoline-electric hybrid buses to The Vine transit system.