Measures in the energy sector incentivize the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on residences in the unincorporated area and require an increase in the amount of renewable electricity supplied to unincorporated county residents through the grid. The County also generates renewable energy on-site through solar and renewable electricity installations on County-owned property through power purchase agreements. Measures in this sector will help the County achieve reductions of 125,140 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 and 553,449 metric tons in 2030.

On September 30, 2020, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors voted to set aside its approval of the County’s 2018 Climate Action Plan (2018 CAP) and related actions because the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (2018 CAP SEIR) was found to be out of compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In response to this Board action, staff are preparing a Climate Action Plan Update (CAP Update) to revise the 2018 CAP and correct the items identified by the Court within the Final 2018 CAP SEIR that were not compliant. The 2018 CAP and EIR are being revised in partnership with residents, and business and environmental groups. The County continues implementing sustainability measures to effectively reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) as part of its ongoing commitment to the environment. The court ruling struck down part of the 2018 CAP’s EIR but did not find fault with its 26 GHG reduction measures. Learn more about the CAP Update.


Strategy E-1: Increase Building Energy Efficiency

Strategy E-2: Increase Renewable Electricity Use


Electricity and natural gas used in buildings contribute 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the unincorporated county. The County works to incentivize solar photovoltaic systems and incorporates new technologies and practices that increase energy savings, lower utility costs, and improve air quality in County buildings. The County also strives to increase the generation and use of renewable energy on-site at facilities and across the unincorporated county to reduce emissions from fossil fuel-generated electricity.

Looking to the future, the County plans to achieve 90% renewable electricity for the unincorporated area by 2030 through a renewable energy program. 

2020 Accomplishments

  • Designed the new Santa Ysabel Nature Center to be zero net energy (ZNE), which means that they produce as much energy as they consume
  • Installed solar photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of 6,480 megawatt hours on-site at County facilities in 2020
  • Analyzed all new County construction for ZNE potential
  • Issued residential solar permits for the equivalent of 8,315 homes in 2020
  • Achieved a 36% reduction in energy use intensity at County facilities in 2020 


  • Received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties in 2020 for the Santa Ysabel Nature Center, which is designed as a net zero energy facility and is certified as LEED Gold. (NACo Category: Parks & Recreation)
  • Recognized as the first local government in California and second in the nation to receive U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Communities Platinum certification.
  • Awarded the US Green Building Council San Diego Sustainable Public Organization Award, LEED BD+C Honor Award, and Zero Net Energy Honor Award for Alpine Library.
  • Designated as a SolSmart Gold-level community for stellar solar permitting services.

In Progress

  • In discussions to potentially participate in a local existing Community Choice Energy Joint Powers Authority to bring renewable energy to the grid