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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Expanding River-Friendly Landscaping Practices to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Sacramento County, California

Federal Funding: $486,668
Project Timeline: February 2010 – September 2013

Latest Update

Sacramento County continues to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water use, and waste through greener landscape practices. Its River-Friendly Landscaping (RFL) Benefits Calculator Exit EPA disclaimer, which calculates GHG emission reductions, is available online. The County sent an online survey about the Calculator to trainees in the Green Gardener program and has worked to incorporate feedback into a refined draft of the calculator. The County has completed the final draft of the RFL standards for urban parks and integrated the standards into training classes. The Turf Demonstration ProjectExit EPA disclaimer has also been completed. In addition, the County has completed renovation of the RFL Inspiration Garden, holding a grand opening ceremony in June 2013, during which they distributed self-guided tour brochures for the garden. The County held a graduation ceremony to honor three classes of Green Gardeners, and industry leaders were invited to network with the graduates. Lastly, the County completed a radio campaign that resulted in over 1,500 pledges to adopt RFL principles and is planning a recognition program to recognize yards that demonstrate RFL principles. Upcoming activities include completing and re-launching the refined calculator, continuing to compile GHG emission reports based on data gathered from the RFL Calculator, and distributing RFL yard signs to residents who have adopted RFL principles in their yards.


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Photos from the Houston B-cycle Kick-off.

Friendly Landscaping

Ask a Green Gardener Day at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery.

Photos from the Houston B-cycle Kick-off.

Friendly Landscaping

Ask a Green Gardener Day at Green Acres — Sacramento.

Photos from the Houston B-cycle Kick-off.

Friendly Landscaping

Ask a Green Gardener Day at Bushnell.

Photos from the Houston B-cycle Kick-off.

Friendly Landscaping

Ask a Green Gardener Day at Green Acres — Roseville.

Turfgrass Demonstration Project.

Turfgrass Demonstration Project

Sacramento County established a Turfgrass Demonstration Project to evaluate different types of groundcover.

Demonstration Project.

Turfgrass Demo Tour

142 Landscape Professionals attended a turfgrass workshp and tour of the Demonstration Project.

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Project Summary

Facilitating Green Landscaping Practices in New Development and Urban Parks to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sacramento County is implementing the River-Friendly Landscaping (RFL) Program as a comprehensive approach to sustainable urban landscapes, and to protect the region's threatened water supplies. The County's project incorporates GHG emissions benefits into the existing RFL framework, resulting in GHG emissions reductions and achieving several other environmental and public health benefits. This project is:

  • developing a tool for evaluating the greenhouse gas reductions that result from RFL,
  • establishing RFL standards for urban parks,
  • expanding a "Green Gardener" training program, and
  • promoting RFL to the public.

Sacramento County established the RFL Program to encourage the sustainable design and maintenance of urban landscapes. Four of the RFL priority areas have a direct impact on GHG emissions:

  • energy conservation
  • water conservation
  • air and water quality protection, and
  • waste reduction.

This project expands the existing RFL program by integrating GHG impacts into the guidelines. The project first developed a simple tool to quantify the environmental and economic benefits of using RFL practices. Second, the project is developing RFL standards for park design and maintenance. Park staff will receive RFL training and implement multiple demonstration projects. Third, the project is supporting "green collar" job training by expanding the Green Gardener training program. Finally, the project will launch a promotional campaign for the public to adopt RFL practices, including outreach publicity, workshops, a training program, and educational materials.

The project will reduce GHG emissions by at least 10,350 metric tons CO2e annually through lower water consumption, and this figure is expected increase once the benefits for municipal landscapes are assessed. Other benefits include a reduction in vehicle miles traveled, reduced solid waste generation, and heat island mitigation. Additional water will also be available for hydroelectric generation as a result. The project will have long-lasting benefits, will build partnerships across multiple stakeholder groups, and will be easily replicable in other communities.

Community Characteristics

Population 1,381,000
Area 995 square miles
Government Type County
Community Type Metropolitan region
Median Household Income $57,800

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of June 2013) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 0 mt CO2e 10,350 mt CO2e
Participating Households 0 35,200
Annual Waste Reductions 0 tons 6,156 tons
Landscapers Trained 145 360

Program Websites

Media Coverage

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