Paul Ahrns
Program Director

Paul Ahrns

Program Director

Paul grew up in Nevada City, spending his summers exploring the mountains and valleys around Truckee. His summers in the Sierra fostered his passion for protecting and sustaining the natural wealth and beauty of the Sierra Nevada region. Paul returned home to the region in 2010 to join the Climate Planning team and work on the first phase of the Green Communities Program. Paul has served as a Planning Technician and Project Manager for the Climate Planning team providing technical expertise and project management support to assist over 30 local governments, special districts and private developers with climate planning assistance. Paul brings his experience in sustainability, planning, community engagement and project management to his new role as the Climate Planning Program Director for the Sierra Business Council.

Personal Highlights:

Paul earned his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science & Policy from California State University, Long Beach where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and was selected as the Department’s Outstanding Graduate for 2009. Paul combines his passion for the environment and desire to explore the world. He has had the pleasure of exploring 5 different continents and more countries than he can keep track off. The highlights of which have been working with communities in Kenya to drill water wells without using electricity or fuel and exploring the incredible history and culture of China.

From Planning to Action: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

As Program Director, Nicholas Martin recently discussed, our climate planning team has completed energy reduction strategies for five local governments in our region. We are pleased to report that as of last Tuesday, all five of the jurisdictions have approved or accepted the proposed energy reduction strategies. As a refresher, the local governments included in that list of five are Nevada City, Jackson, Plymouth, Loomis, and Amador County.

Jackson, CAThis was a great step forward for our local government partners - this is also where the real work begins. Plans are great to have, but unless they are implemented, their desired effects will not be achieved. These particular strategy documents have laid out a three-year implementation path to accelerate the use of voluntary energy-efficiency, renewable-energy and water-conservation programs. To assist our local governments in the implementation process, we included potential partner organizations and programs for each implementation action.

Additionally, SBC has limited capacity to assist with the kickoff of the implementation process. This includes benchmarking of major buildings and facilities using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager program. Benchmarking will give our local government partners the opportunity to track energy use over time, identify the least efficient facilities and prioritize energy efficiency projects to reduce energy use and save taxpayer dollars.

SBC is also working with our local governments to complete 2010 re-inventories of both municipal-operations and community-wide greenhouse gas emissions. These re-inventories will serve as an interim guidepost for our local governments to evaluate how activities and emissions have changed from 2005 to 2010. Finally, SBC will be working with our local governments to develop procedures and tools to track the effect of the plans.

While SBC is able to assist with some of the initial implementation, it will be up to our local government partners and community members to take advantage of the energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs in order to achieve the benefits laid out in the strategy documents. Those benefits include increased comfort, reduced energy costs, improved local air quality and increased resiliency within our communities. Based on the work to date with the five communities (which range in size from 976 to 35,519 population), the potential annual energy savings range from 2.8 to 33.1 million kilowatts and 750,000 to 10.7 million dollars saved. This assumes all action programs are in place and targets are met by year 2020. Furthermore, dollars saved on energy can be spent elsewhere in the community, thus potentially boosting the local economy.

SBC is thrilled to have achieved our initial goals for these five communities – developing approachable energy reduction strategies that have been readily adopted as well as fostering community buy-in. Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.



Image courtesy of Wayne Hsieh