Catching Rays Saves Dollars at COC

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Most of the County Operations Center has been rebuilt from the ground up in recent years. But cranes still dot the campus on occasion outside of buildings that have long been finished and opened to the public. So what’s going on?

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Thousands of solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, are being installed on top of six buildings as part of the County’s renewable energy plan. The COC project began last July and is scheduled to finish next March.

Once completed, the system will catch rays that generate 2.2 megawatts of clean renewable power, more than 30% of the electricity used by the entire COC campus. On top of that, a 400-kilowatt battery system is being installed on the campus’ north side.

The battery system will offset SDG&E’s increased rates during periods of high demand. The battery will switch on as needed each day when campus energy use gets too high, eliminating most of those costs.

Between the solar panels and the battery, the system is expected to cut the COC’s annual electricity bill up to $220,000 each year.

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Under a power purchase agreement, Sun Power builds, operates and maintains the COC system at no cost to the County. In turn, the County agrees to buy all the renewable power generated at a price well below current and anticipated future SDG&E rates.  

“This system is an important piece of the County’s overall renewable energy plan,” said Energy and Sustainability Program Chief Charley Marchesano. “The ultimate goal is to generate at least 20% of the County’s total energy load from onsite renewable sources by 2030.”

Various other County facilities boast photovoltaic systems, too, including some at County parks. And there are more to come. Solar panels will be added to the Santa Ysabel Nature Center and Lindo Lake Park next year.    

The East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility has a 1 MW array. A photovoltaic system was energized at the South Bay Regional Center last year providing nearly 1.5 MW of additional clean renewable power. Solar panels went up at the newly constructed Borrego Springs Library and a project at the Rancho San Diego Library is underway right now. 

What’s next? The North County Regional Center, the Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility and the Rancho San Diego Sheriff Station. Finishing up the list of major solar projects will be a return to the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility to expand its solar installation and double its current energy output.

All told, the County is currently generating more than 6% of its total operating electricity from renewable onsite sources. That equates to removing 1,664 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the environment just last year or taking 362 gas-powered cars off our local roads.   

To find out more about the County’s overall sustainability efforts, visit the climate action plan website.

Pet of the Week - Mack

Meet Mack! A 7-year-old German shepherd mix looking for his new forever home.

Mack will definitely steal your heart. He has a very sweet and calm personality. Mack loves to go for walks, enjoys meeting new people, and will be happiest when you give him lots of scratches. So let’s get him adopted!

You can see Mack at the Department of Animal Services’ shelter in Carlsbad or visit sddac.com to give another animal their furever home.

Friday Photo: Rainbows Galore

Check out the triple rainbow! Three employees shared images of rainbows 🌈 over County properties.

Share your fabulous photos! If you see a coworker getting the job done, a beautiful sunset over your office or wonderful County program being offered—snap a pic and submit it. Be sure to include information about the photo and your name. One image will be posted to InSite every Friday.

Rainbow over the County Operations Center. 📷: Child Welfare Services Office Support Specialist Michele Blackwood Trejo.

Rainbow over the County Operations Center. 📷: Child Welfare Services Office Support Specialist Michele Blackwood Trejo.

Rainbow over Lake Morena County Park. 📷: Park Ranger Vinny Bartolone.

Rainbow over Lake Morena County Park. 📷: Park Ranger Vinny Bartolone.

Rainbow from the County Operations Center. 📷: Auditor & Controller Associate Accountant Jill Romero.

Rainbow from the County Operations Center. 📷: Auditor & Controller Associate Accountant Jill Romero.

Get Your Free Flu Shot

Flu season is coming. To help you stay healthy, the County is offering free flu shots to all County employees. Flu shots will be offered at various worksites beginning Sept. 23.

See the schedule.

While it may seem early to think about your annual flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the vaccination as soon as it’s available. Getting vaccinated before the start of the flu season gives the body a chance to build up immunity to the virus before it begins spreading in the community.  If you have concerns about the flu shot, please see this story from the County Immunization Program debunking common flu shot myths.

Additional Tips to Stay Healthy

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

·       Wash hands thoroughly and often

·       Use hand sanitizers

·       Stay away from sick people

·       Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

·       Clean commonly touched surfaces

·       If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

2020 Open Enrollment Is Coming!

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Making your benefit elections during Open Enrollment is one of the most important decisions you’ll make all year. Start your research now, ahead of Open Enrollment, which runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 24!

First, review 2020 plan information on the Open Enrollment website from a work or home computer. Then, attend an open enrollment fair to learn about plan changes for next year and meet with benefit providers including Delta Dental, Kaiser Permanente, MetLife and UnitedHealthcare. There are six fairs scheduled between Sept. 12 and Oct. 8.

If you have questions, reach out to your Benefit Ambassador. These benefits experts can help you review plan information, navigate online enrollment and answer specific questions so that Open Enrollment is easy!

Meet the Benefit Ambassadors

If you have questions about 2020 Open Enrollment, Benefit Ambassadors are ready to assist. These benefits experts can help you review plan information, navigate online enrollment and answer specific questions so that Open Enrollment is easy!

Benefit Ambassadors can be reached by email or phone. If your department is not listed, please reach out to any ambassador in your group.

Play in CECO Golf Tournament

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Get ready to tee off at the San Diego County Employees Charitable Organization (CECO) golf tournament and dinner this fall. The inaugural competition at Twin Oaks Golf Course is a fundraiser “fore” CECO, which donates 100% of contributions and fundraiser proceeds toward grants for local non-profits and assistance to employees in crisis.

While the charity event is not until Nov. 8, registration is only open through Sept. 30. Reserve your spot today! Entry is $100 per player, which includes green fees, cart fees, range balls, a participant pack with freebies, awards (top two teams, closest to the pin, longest drive and straightest drive) and dinner buffet with tri-tip and chicken. Or join CECO back at the club house for dinner only. Tickets for dinner are $35.

The event is open to County employees, family and friends. First time golfers welcome too! Plus, you don’t need to have a foursome to participate. Singles and doubles are welcome and will be assigned to a group.

“This is a great opportunity for both golfers and non-golfers to support CECO while enjoying a great day of golf and dining,” said CECO President Mavette Sadile.

Earlier this year, the organization awarded 88 grants totaling $139,622. See the full list of grant recipients. Since its founding in 1956, CECO has distributed at least $6.8 million throughout the San Diego region.

See CECO website for registration and sponsorship details.

If you have any questions, please contact sdceco@sdcounty.ca.gov.

Friday Photo: Rain on the Horizon

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Jake Parli, a building maintenance engineer with the Department of General Services, snapped a picture of a thunderstorm rolling through Campo. He was out at the Sheriff’s Department substation removing a downed tree with a tractor.

Share your fabulous photos! If you see a coworker getting the job done, a beautiful sunset over your office or wonderful County program being offered—snap a pic and submit it. Be sure to include information about the photo and your name. One image will be posted to InSite every Friday.

See the Friday Photo gallery.

County Board Meetings Move to Kearny Mesa

The meetings will be held in the Campus Center Chambers, within the building seen to the left. The parking structure is seen on the right.

The meetings will be held in the Campus Center Chambers, within the building seen to the left. The parking structure is seen on the right.

Starting Sept. 10, the Board of Supervisors meetings will temporarily move to the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa.

The Board Chamber at the County Administration Center downtown is currently under renovation, so the next 12 meetings will be held at the COC’s Campus Center Chambers.

COC employees are being asked to park on the third floor or higher on days the meetings take place so spaces on the lower floors will be available for the public.

Off-campus employees who plan to attend the meetings should allow extra time for parking and security screening. Gain entry to the meeting by walking through the Commons Café to the Chamber entrance.

Live video is available online while the meetings are in progress and then archived several hours later at the same website. Board agendas are also posted online the Wednesday before scheduled meetings.

The Board meetings are scheduled to return to the County Administration Center in January 2020.

InTouch – Acting Now for Future Generations

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I bet you have a lot to do today. Lots of things that need your attention right now.

But running a government responsibly is not just about helping people today. It means operating and making decisions so our successors are able to help them decades from now.

That’s the essence of the word sustainability. If the term seems squishy, here’s a common definition: using only enough resources for this generation so we leave enough for the next generation to meet their own needs.

Well, that could mean a lot of things. And it does.

For one, it’s the same concept that drives our fiscal discipline, which is all about setting up a spending plan that won’t leave us short down the road.

But we tend to more than dollars. Most often when we talk about sustainability, we’re referring to the environment and our use of natural resources. Those are areas where the County has been taking action in a variety of ways for some time, in many cases long before we began grouping them under the term sustainability.

In recent years, those efforts have taken on urgency as the consequences of climate change have become more apparent. The threat means we need to take an array of concrete steps to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Our strategy for rising to that challenge is our Climate Action Plan, passed by the Board of Supervisors last year. It lays out more than two dozen measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decade and beyond.

This week we release our Climate Action Plan’s first Annual Report showing the progress we’ve made toward hitting those goals. That’s a snapshot, but the work is, of course, ongoing. We’ve also just created a Climate Action Plan website that will continually show progress updates and help us share the details of what we’re doing with the public. I hope you’ll take a look yourself.

The Climate Action Plan, or CAP, builds on several programs and frameworks the County has adopted over time related to sustainable practices, such as the General Plan, the Multiple Species Conservation Plan, and plans to address energy use, waste reduction, food systems and hazard mitigation. Many of you have been involved with creating and implementing these various plans. 

These efforts can all be grouped into a few broad areas: our own buildings and operations, things we do for the unincorporated area we oversee, and practices we promote for the public and employees. Let me give a few examples.

For us, sustainability starts at home, so to speak. All new County buildings must be zero net energy, meaning they produce at least as much energy as they consume through solar or other renewable energy sources. Libraries we’ve built in Alpine, Imperial Beach and Borrego Springs the last few years are zero net energy and examples of our buildings of the future.  And new buildings must be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. We have 81 LEED buildings already, with 33 of those at the highest level – Platinum.

We have several projects in the works adding solar to County facilities that together may reduce our entire electricity demand by 20 percent. Around our buildings, we’re putting in more drought-tolerant landscaping – one of the ways we’re cutting how much water we use. We’re transitioning our fleet – the cars and trucks employees use – to cleaner fuels and technology, with 40 electric cars in service and more on the way.

In the community, we’ve made solar permitting for homes fast and simple, offering an online process. More than 38,000 homes in the County’s unincorporated area now have rooftop solar.

We have a CAP goal to plant 14,000 trees by next year and are nearly there already. We’re well beyond our goal of acquiring land for conservation, picking up 2,200 acres last year alone. We’re working with residents to update community plans in ways that reduce the need for driving.

And we help residents with steps they can take to cut greenhouse gas emissions. To keep waste out of landfills, we teach people how to compost, give businesses guides on reducing food waste, and provide recycling bins to schools and apartments.

As is often the case when I give examples of things we’re doing, I’m only scratching the surface.

There are all the things we can do as individuals to help as well. Cutting out car trips is a big one. Remember the County reimburses the cost of many transit passes. MTS Free Ride Day is coming up Oct. 2, so consider giving it a try.

Compost if you can. I bet that was a key for some of our colleagues who recently showed off their gardening skills.

Around the home or workplace, remember the basics: turn off lights when you’re not using them, and don’t let water run unnecessarily. It all adds up. You’ll find more ideas on the Take Climate Action section of the CAP website.

We’re also becoming increasingly aware of the public health risks linked to climate change. Hotter conditions and drought leave us more susceptible to wildfires and the smoke that can blanket the region, posing a danger to people with respiratory and other chronic conditions. Climate change means habitat change, so that the region becomes more hospitable to mosquitoes and other disease carriers.

Those relationships between public health and sustainability will be among the items on the agenda at next month’s Live Well Advance. The annual meeting brings together our partners who share the vision of a region that’s healthy, safe and thriving. I’ve tried to convey here how sustainability runs through many things we do. And it is woven into the Live Well San Diego vision that we all play a part in realizing.