County Garners Recognition for Sustainability Programs


Innovative services and programming that provide parks, libraries, roads, fire protection, and public safety contribute to a secure, healthy, and thriving community.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) recognized the County of San Diego (County) for its programs that provide leading-edge government services to its residents.

Of the total 54 Achievement Awards the County received from NACo in 2020, here are a few of the County’s sustainability-related programs that received Achievement Awards.

Protecting Biodiversity

Santa Ysabel Nature CenterSanta Ysabel Nature Center

Santa Ysabel Nature Center
NACo Category: Parks & Recreation

The Santa Ysabel Nature Center, a 6,000-square-foot LEED Gold and Zero Net Energy facility, opened its doors to visitors on December 14, 2019. The Nature Center houses indoor and outdoor exhibits that showcase the unique ecology and history of the surrounding environment. Outdoor educational activities include an interpretive trail, amphitheater, and nature-based play area. The facility produces power onsite through solar panels and has two electric vehicle charging stations available for visitors. Electric vehicles plugged in to these chargers will be powered by 100% renewable energy!

EV RoadmapEV Roadmap

Cleaner Vehicles

Electric Vehicle Roadmap
NACo Category: County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability

In October 2019, the Board approved the Electric Vehicle (EV) Roadmap to increase EV ownership and electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the unincorporated county. Implementation of the EV Roadmap helps the County achieve Climate Action Plan greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets as well as meet California’s EV and electric vehicle infrastructure goals.

School Protection and Evacuation Plan TemplateSPEP Template

Building Wildfire Resilience

School Protection and Evacuation Plan
NACo Category: Risk & Emergency Management

The San Diego County Office of Education worked with local agencies to create a School Protection and Evacuation Plan (SPEP), establishing a template that school administrators can use to create locally focused wildfire preparedness response plans. The SPEP also aids in determining safe zones, parent/student reunification areas, and transportation options if it becomes necessary to evacuate. The safety of school staff and students is a priority during an emergency, the SPEP allows for the most thorough planning for all the collaborating agencies involved.

Protecting Water Resources

Green StreetsGreen Streets Guidance

Green Streets Guidance
NACo Category: Community Resilience: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability

The County protects the region’s creeks, rivers, and oceans by reducing pollution and the amount of runoff reaching our rivers and oceans. The County developed Green Infrastructure (GI) Strategies, which provides new guidance for developers of public and private design, construction and maintenance projects. GI Strategies are designed to mimic the natural water cycle within the built environment through innovative use of vegetation, mulch, and engineered soils. By using these GI Strategies, developers can save time and money while improving water quality in the region. The County is the only agency in the region, and one few in the nation, to develop Green Streets Guidance.

Borrego Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan
NACo Category: Community & Economic Development

The plan, finalized in August 2019, was the first sustainability plan created in California and is poised to be the first used to comprehensively determine groundwater rights. The County developed the sustainability plan with the Borrego Water District to ensure groundwater resources can be sustainably managed, to promote intergovernmental cooperation in addressing groundwater overdraft, and to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

By empowering residents and businesses with valuable resources and services, the County is inspired to continue building healthy, safe, sustainable, and thriving communities.