Pacifica Saves Energy While Illuminating Council Chambers

In 2018 the San Mateo County Energy Watch, a program of the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG), accelerated energy efficiency projects in San Mateo County by administering a Municipal Energy Efficiency Call for Projects. By the end of the year, SMC Energy Watch distributed $420,000 in grant funding to 10 cities and the County of San Mateo through the program. Funding reimbursed the government agencies for staff time spent implementing energy efficiency projects.

City of Pacifica was one of the 11 agencies that benefitted from the Call for Projects program. The City leveraged the funding to improve heating and lighting in its Council Chambers, as well as reduce utility costs.

The boiler system for the City’s Council Chambers had broken. Rather than replacing it with a traditional central heating system, SMC Energy Watch recommended installing a ductless “mini-split” heat pump to save energy and make the building’s temperature more comfortable for occupants. A ductless heat pump system is more energy efficient because it uses refrigerant lines to connect an outdoor unit to multiple indoor units. This prevents 30% of the energy from being lost by pushing heated air through leaky and bulky ducts. Since the ductless heat pump system’s multiple indoor units heat different rooms or zones, they can be turned off in unoccupied rooms to save additional energy.

The City of Pacifica also improved lighting quality in the Council Chambers by replacing over 100 outdated light bulbs with highly-efficient LED lighting. The retrofit will reduce the building’s annual energy use by 22,000 kilowatt hours, saving the City 10% on the building’s electricity costs each year. The project will also trim the City’s carbon footprint by almost 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent of the pollution from more than three cars for one year.

The City of Pacifica has also furthered its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from City operations by installing solar panels on the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and at the City Council Chambers/Sharp Park Pump Station. The Council Chambers HVAC and LED Lighting projects are small steps in reaching Pacifica’s goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint.

In addition to Pacifica’s lighting and heating upgrades, SMC Energy Watch funded staff time to facilitate upgrades to heating and cooling systems and lighting at the Town of Colma, lighting and window retrofits at City of Half Moon Bay, improvements to heating and cooling systems at City of Foster City, and lighting upgrades at City of Redwood City.

Collectively, these energy projects will reduce energy use by approximately 2.5 million kilowatt hours annually, once the projects are complete. The retrofits will also slash San Mateo County’s carbon footprint by nearly 1,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of the pollution from 375 cars or from the energy used to power 212 homes for one year.

Devil’s Canyon Brewery

Devil’s Canyon Brewery in San Carlos got its start in 2001 as a home-brewing project, but quickly developed into a private-label contract brewery and later a full-scale commercial brewing operation. Now the brewery operates full-time as both a production facility and event center.

The motto of Devil’s Canyon is “Crafting Beer, Building Community.” And for this family-owned craft brewery, community is not just about people – it’s also about the environment.

Devil’s Canyon has always operated with sustainability in mind, but in January 2017, the craft brewery took its eco-credentials to the next level, getting certified as a Green Business through the County of San Mateo’s Green Business Program.

Here are some of the ways Devil’s Canyon goes above and beyond to be green:

  • The brewery upgraded to more efficient fluorescent lighting in its production area and event center through the San Mateo County Energy Watch program, which offers a turnkey,
  • direct-install lighting retrofit program for small businesses and nonprofits. The lighting replacement not only improved the quality of light – which is important to many of the beer-brewing processes – but it also reduced the brewery’s carbon footprint by the equivalent of the annual air pollution from over 1,500 cars.
  • Devil’s Canyon also installed ultra-efficient LED lights in the main bar, front hallways and several restrooms to save even more energy and low-flow water faucets to conserve water.
  • It’s common for commercial breweries to use heat exchange systems. Rather than purchase a new system, Devil’s Canyon built its own using a tank that was originally headed for the landfill, as well as a tube and shell heat exchanger purchased at an estate sale. This “recycled” heat exchanger saves about 3,000 gallons of water a week and thousands of dollars a year on the brewery’s energy bills. It also cost 75 percent less than buying a brand-new system.
  • Devil’s Canyon asks its patrons to bring their own pint glass or purchase one from the brewery to reuse.

“Sustainable business practices enable Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company to create exceptional handcrafted products,” says brewery owner and co-founder Kristiann Dienstbier Garrett. “Every decision in our business balances environment, economics and social equity.”


New England Lobster Market & Eatery

New England Lobster Market & Eatery

The next time you get a craving for a lobster roll or crab sandwich this side of the coast, you might want to try one of San Mateo County’s certified green businesses, New England Lobster Market & Eatery, in Burlingame. The company started selling lobsters wholesale and to the public across the Bay Area in 1987.

After its success with the “We’re On A Roll” food truck in South San Francisco in 2011, New England Lobster opened an eatery and market in Burlingame the following year.

The restaurant offers a “crack-it-yourself” crustacean experience, with lobster served right out of the pot, says owner Marc Worrall.


The New England Lobster Market & Eatery earned its Green Business Certification in October 2017, thanks to its efforts to save energy and water, which include:

  • Upgrading all pumps and refrigeration to new energy-efficient models
  • Replacing lighting with LEDs and energy-efficient fixtures through San Mateo County Energy Watch’s turnkey, direct-install lighting program for small businesses and nonprofits
  • Painting its roof white and installing insulation and ceiling fans to reduce the use of air conditioning
  • Installing low-flow toilets in customer restrooms

The eatery has also reduced its waste stream by:

  • Reusing all of its packaging for incoming and outgoing shipments of shellfish
  • Packing to-go orders in compostable take-out containers
  • Composting food scraps from its kitchen and eatery
  • Purchasing benches and tables for the eatery from reclaimed wood

“New England Lobster has been practicing green ever since green was [just] a color,” Worrall says. “It’s important to participate in protecting the environment as best we can. We all need to do our part and reuse resources whenever possible.”

The County’s Green Business Program recognizes small-to-medium sized local businesses that operate in an environmentally responsible way. To become a certified green business, organizations must receive audits from, and consultations with, the County and other local agencies to make sure they not only comply but also exceed environmental regulations. Many businesses adopt new programs or undergo retrofits to attain Green Business Certification, such as establishing a food scrap composting program or replacing their lighting with more efficient bulbs. Certification lasts three years.