Community Solar Coming Soon!

By | Community Solar, Staff Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments

Climate change hits low income communities the hardest, disproportionately affecting these families with problems such as heat waves, high energy/water costs, outdoor and indoor air pollution. Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek has developed plans for an innovative Advanced Energy Community in the Chollas Creek Watershed to bring residents accessible, affordable, green energy and improve air quality.  It is being called the Chollas EcoVillage (pictured below), and will be one of the first in California.

Access to solar energy in under-served communities was made possible recently when the California Public Utilities Commission approved a new low-income solar program to be required from utilities such as SDG&E.  For the first time, going solar will become an available and affordable option for tens of thousands of low-income Californians who live in economically and environmentally at-risk communities. The program will offer subscriptions to community solar projects for renters and others that lack roof space or the financial flexibility to install solar.

The Chollas EcoVillage will be the site of a large solar project, most likely a bundle of solar panels on a commercial parking lot carport, called Community Solar. Groundwork will help build the solar installation, and SDG&E will make the energy available to the community at A 20% BILL DISCOUNT!

Groundwork is encouraging residents the Chollas Creek Watershed, as well as San Diegans who live outside the watershed, to take a survey on the Groundwork website to tell SDG&E they want community solar NOW!

Chollas EcoVillage

Energy and Water Conservation Rebates: Part 2

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If you are a resident of San Diego, there are all sorts of rebates out there that can help you save money on your bills, and also help you conserve water and energy. You can access these things and much more at discounted prices by taking advantage of the rebates and savings offered by the City of San Diego, SDG&E, SoCal WaterSmart, and the Center for Sustainable Energy. If you need help accessing these rebates after reading through this, call Patrice at 619 540 0430.

In this article I’ll run you through the rebates and discounts you can get, and some information regarding each one.

The first set of rebates we highlighted was to help you bring water conservation into your home, saving you money and water while you use your daily appliances. The following article will be based around the water conserving technologies you can use outside your home, mostly targeting landscape water usage. But first a word on stormwater runoff:

Stormwater Runoff

In our urban and suburban neighborhoods, where there is more concrete and asphalt than there are patches of green or brown, rainwater moves across all those impermeable surfaces, picking up pollutants along the way and delivering them to our rivers and ocean. (This is demonstrated in this wonderful video featuring local EarthLab students.) The rainwater picks up oil, grease and dirt from the roadways, and carry trash into the waterways and storm drains. After every rain, the City of San Diego has to close the beaches as the bacteria contamination in the water is at unsafe levels for people to be swimming in. Stormwater runoff pollution is a challenge for most cities, intensifying the negative effects urban development has on the environment.

A great way to do your part in preventing stormwater runoff, is to make use of the rainfall to irrigate your garden or landscaping. Two seperate Rain Barrels and Cisterns rebates are offered through SoCal Watersmart and the City of San Diego Transportation and Stormwater department.


City of San Diego Rain Barrel Rebate

The link below has all the information you need to get your rebate of up to $1 per gallon (maximum is $400) and other information about the installation and how to have it irrigate your landscaping. From a general estimate of Rain Barrel prices, they seem to be priced more or less around $100 for a 50 gallon barrel. With that price, you could save 50% the purchase price after your rebate. The minimum size of rain barrel for this rebate is 45 gallons.

Click here to check it out: City of San Diego Rain Barrel Rebate


SoCal Water$mart Rain Barrel and Cistern Rebate

The SoCal Water$mart program is ran through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and has plenty of other rebates for both residential and commercial applicants. I’ll point out more of these rebates as we continue. This rebate has a minimum size of 50 gallons for rain barrels and 200 gallons for cisterns. For each rain barrel (up to two rain barrels) you will receive a rebate of $35, and rebates for a cistern depends on size, from $250 back for a 200-500 gallon cistern, up to $350 back for a cistern exceeding 1000+ gallons.

According to SoCal Water$mart, you are free to take advantage of both these rebates for the same rain barrel.

Here is their rebate: SoCal Water$mart Rain Barrel and Cistern Rebate


City of San Diego Graywater Rebate

According to the page linked above, a family of four could reuse 22,000 gallons each year by using the rinse water from their washing machine. Graywater systems, sometimes known as Laundry to Landscape systems are pretty straightforward: they take the water from your washing machine and funnel them into your landscape instead of down the drain, making use of the perfectly clean water to take care of your garden. Just use an environmentally friendly laundry detergent for your loads, and you can start saving water and money with this simple, but innovative system. With this rebate, you could save $150-$250 on your no-permit Graywater system. If you get more complex setup going, with water from your bathtub and shower, and more plumbing work required, then you might have to get a permit to install your system, which has been made a much easier process after 2013. You could save up to $1000 on materials and permitting fees for those more complex systems requiring a permit.

Set yourself up for savings with the rebate here: City of San Diego Graywater Rebate


City of San Diego Free Residential Water Surveys

To learn more about the efficiency of your current water usage, consider having a free water survey done on your home. A specialist will come out and check for leaks and water saving opportunities, as well as provide you some pieces of equipment and information to help you begin saving water. A lot of the survey will be in the home, but if you have a landscape, this can be very important to maximizing your water usage on your garden or lawn. If having an expert in water efficiency visit your home and fill you in on everything you could be doing to save money and water sounds good to you, then set up your survey below.

Click here for the water survey:  City of San Diego Free Residential Water Surveys

Socal WaterSmart Rotating Sprinkler Nozzles Rebate

Just like the website reminds us, it’s not a great feeling to see a sprinkler furiously watering the concrete of the sidewalk, while wholly ignoring the landscape it was meant for. This could be your home! Rotating sprinkler nozzles are easy to position to make sure that you’re watering what you need, and nothing else. They save 20% more water than conventional spray heads. The rebate is for a minimum of 30 Sprinkler Nozzles, and will save you at least $2 per nozzle. They can run from around $3 – $8 a nozzle in stores, so this is a pretty good chunk of savings you could take advantage of.

So take advantage of it here: Socal WaterSmart Rotating Sprinkler Nozzles Rebate


Socal WaterSmart Weather Based Irrigation Controllers

Why stop at the sprinklers? We’re headed in the right direction, and the next stop on your path to smaller bills and conserving water is a “smart” irrigation controller. This controller uses weather data to set your watering time according to the temperature. If the day is cool, you’ll need less water for your landscape, and this controller will automatically calculate and limit or extend the watering time. These controllers can prevent overwatering your landscape by 13,500 gallons a year, and save you 700$ over their lifetime. Based on a few of the models listed on the site, one of these devices will run you from around $100 – $300. The rebate starts at $80 per controller for under 1 acre of landscaping, and $35 per station for over 1 acre of landscaping.

Learn more and pick one of these up with the rebate here: Socal WaterSmart Weather Based Irrigation Controllers


Soil Moisture Sensor Systems

This soil moisture sensor is just what you need alongside the last two devices that will really make your irrigation cycles efficient, and responsive to the changing environment. These sensors are placed to capture data about the moisture of the soil. Just like the weather information, if the soil is still most, it will let your irrigation controller know to not water it or water it less. When you buy one of these, from their list of qualifying models, it will tend to come with a sensor and a calibrator. You’ll need to get a irrigation controller if it doesn’t come with one. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to claim this rebate if you already claimed the rebate for the weather-based irrigation controller. Either you get the rebate for the controller, or for this moisture sensor. These sensors run from around $100 – $160 and the rebate is, again, $80 per sensor, or $35 per irrigation controller station.

Learn more and claim the rebate here: Soil Moisture Sensor Systems

     Indulge me in a daydream: That beautiful and rare San Diego rainfall comes around, and is collected in your huge Rain Barrel. Your Soil Moisture Sensor reads that your drought tolerant landscape won’t need to be watered that day, and automatically limits your irrigation without even needing to consult you. A few weeks pass and now the sun is smiling vigorously on our city. You thank the sun for being so bright, but secretly you wish it would chill out just a bit, because you’ve been sweating through your clothes so fast that you seriously consider moving to a nudist colony in the desert to avoid all the laundry that’s piling up. Before you pack your bags (nudists must be light travellers!) consider that your washing machine is set up to water your landscape, and your Weather-Based Irrigation Controller is letting you know that, with this heat, you’ll need to run those Rotating Sprinkler Nozzles a bit longer today. Go ahead and wash that sweaty pile of laundry, you know it’s not being wasted, and you know it’s being accurately distributed across your landscape, thanks to the help from the City of San Diego’s Free Residential Water Survey. So forget about moving to the desert, sit down on your porch and enjoy your happy garden. But panic runs through you once more: You see the mail-lady approaching your home and you’ve got the urge to pick up where you left off, and join that nudist colony to avoid paying these bills that are coming your way. But the mail is already in your hands, and well golly-gee, you’re spending less on your utilities than ever before! Maybe you’ll stick around after all…

That concludes the water rebates I’ve found, although there might be more out there that I’ve missed. If you find any, send them my way at to spread the word. Check out the next one for a whole new crop of rebates and opportunities to start conserving water, energy, and money.

–  Ali Mehraban
Newsletter Editor &
Climate Action Intern


Home-Makeover & Water Conservation Project Nominated for National Award

By | Uncategorized


​Our Home-Makeover & Water Conservation Project in the Chollas Creek Watershed region has just been nominated for a national award!  The San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, recognizing the project as a leading innovation in San Diego’s Climate Action and Water Conservation efforts, has submitted it to the The Atlas Marketplace, a digital platform that collects resilient infrastructure case studies from around the United States to serve as best practices for other communities.  The Groundwork project is engaging scores of climate action ambassador- residents in the Chollas Creek Watershed.  The project’s installations include:

  • Rainbarrels for saving water and capturing potential run-off
  • Drought tolerant trees providing greenhouse gas sequestration for air improvement and runoff reduction
  • Greywater systems, with a savings of approximately 150 gallons per week per family, for landscape use and waste water reduction
  • Earthworks for irrigation reduction and hardscape replacement for runoff reduction
  • Faucet aerators, low flush toilets and efficient showerheads

Because water experts advocate for large rainbarrel installations (400 gallons or more) to achieve maximum benefits, residents have been willing to accommodate the largest available.  Below is resident Irma Williams with a 450 gallon rainbarrel!


Event: Earth Day at the EarthLab – Sat, April 21st

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We are excited to announce that we are hosting Earth Day at EarthLab  on Saturday, April 21st, from 9-11am. Our incredible partner, NASSCO, will be joining us again to remove dead trees, clean the creek bed, spread mulch, and remove trash. This will be a productive day for the EarthLab and for the environment.

We will also have select science teachers conducting age-appropriate activities for our younger students. These activities include science experiments, seed planting, arts & crafts, and more.

Increase Clean Energy supports residential energy efficiency

By | Community Support, Uncategorized

Increase Clean Energy principals Derek and Tony present Groundwork staff with a corporate contribution in support of Groundwork’s energy efficiency outreach efforts.  Leading the Chollas EcoVillage project, Groundwork is bringing free energy and water conservation upgrades to Encanto neighborhoods.  Increase Clean Energy, a leading full service :Green Home” specialty company, is providing free audits. Call Groundwork for more information!  619 543 0430

Groundwork leads neighborhood partners to plan Encanto into an Advanced Energy Community

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Groundwork San Diego has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the California Energy Commission to develop an advanced, energy master plan for the Encanto/Chollas Creek community. This grant, one of only 4 awarded statewide, will launch a community-wide initiative to make “Chollas Eco-Village” a Zero Net Energy Community.


In its simplest terms, a ZNE community is one in which its annual energy usage is matched by locally generated, renewable energy.  Going ZNE reduces energy use, lowers the effect of human activities on climate change and preserves the quality of life in the community.


The Master Plan will forecast local renewable energy resources that match the electrical, heating and cooling requirements of the targeted project area, and facilitate maximum community energy efficiency and participation. The project area is roughly bounded by I-94, Euclid Avenue, Imperial Avenue and I-805. There are six schools within the project area, approximately 2,000 residential units, numerous commercial buildings such as retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, medical offices and public facilities like libraries.


Over the next 18 months, Groundwork San Diego will launch a community-wide initiative in partnership with local residents, businesses, property owners, community-based organizations and public institutions.  At the end of the grant – Phase I – Groundwork San Diego will develop a Master Plan that includes the following:


  • Type, size and locations of energy generation resources;
  • Locations within the community that have committed to be part of this project;
  • And energy efficiency and ZNE plans for community schools.


“This project will serve as a model for all of the underserved communities throughout California,” said State Senator Ben Hueso. “I am thrilled to be in support and look forward to seeing the significant economic benefits the completed master plan will bring to Chollas Creek and its surrounding communities.”


Led by Groundwork San Diego, this project is an unprecedented cross-sector coalition that includes San Diego Unified School District, UC San Diego and SDG&E, and enjoys support from the City of San Diego and other organizations all committed to advancing the City of San Diego Climate Action Plan, developing new models of sustainability that support environmental, economic prosperity, and environmental justice goals.


“We need to think creatively, especially at the local level, about how to bring new clean energy technologies and their benefits to disadvantaged communities,” said California Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott. “This project is an exciting step in that direction. The phased approach of the challenge helps fund the planning and then implementation, which is a great way to create a broad community oriented approach.”



Need a New Clothes Washer? SDGE Rebate – Just For You!

By | Community Support, Uncategorized
In the market for a new washing machine?

For a limited time, we’re offering an additional $20 incentive on top of our standard $50 clothes washer rebate. This offer is only available on SDG&E Marketplace.

Claim your $70 rebate on qualifying ENERGY STAR® clothes washers purchased between July 5th and August 8th, 2016*.




Act fast because this rebate ends August 8th.

Find additional savings with a complementary Water & Energy Savings Kit. Get yours today. #espsdge

SDGE: Helping You To Keep Your Cool!

By | Community Support, Uncategorized

As temperatures rise, it is good to know that SDGE is looking for ways for you to ‘beat the heat”.

A reminder for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) customers: the transition to a new electric rate structure that began last September enters the next phase in July 2016. How these changes affect your electric bill will depend on your energy use, where you live and whether you’re enrolled in a bill discount program like California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE). To read more about how these changes will impact your bill, please visit: #essdge.

Pocketful of Thanks

By | Community Support, Public Service, Uncategorized

We’re so thankful for all of our supporters! To every volunteer, parent, dreamer, neighbor, partner and promoter who helps us work as one – THANK YOU! These photos are a strong reminder of what all of your help amounts to – this season we’ve managed to complete the Pocket Park on Euclid!

A special thanks goes out to the Mission Continues and Wounded Warriors who contributed their Saturday morning and their money to finish planting the park. It looks so beautiful and we can’t wait to pay it forward by opening it up for the pleasure of the public!

Hope you have a fulfilling and filling Thanksgiving everyone!DSC00937 DSC00947 DSC00948 DSC00950

Groundwork Moves Chollas Creek Regional Park Ahead with Strong Support

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The momentum for designating a regional park in the Chollas Creek Watershed is building quickly. Supporters of the proposed plan believe that it would give the Chollas Creek area a long-overdue and well-deserved regional identity, while bringing diverse neighborhoods together through a watershed-wide system of trails and parks and visitor destinations.  “This watershed is an important regional asset, characterized by a rich history and unparalleled historic, biological, and cultural resources,” says  Vicki Estrada, President of Estrada Land Planning and member of the Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek Board of Directors. Groundwork is the manager of the Chollas Creek Watershed and is leading the Regional Park effort.

In order to create the masterplan for creating and connecting trails and parks; restoring habitats; and interpreting the area’s vast resources, an estimated $700,000 in city funding will be needed. Groundwork has just completed a Feasibility Study draft to be reviewed by City Planning Department staff and presented to the City of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Board in November to obtain support for the masterplan.

Supporters believe that the Chollas Creek Watershed, like the San Diego and San Dieguito River Parks, has significant recreational amenities will that will be of interest to visitors throughout San Diego and beyond. Chollas Creek runs north and south of SR 94 from Lemon Grove and La Mesa to San Diego Bay.

Our regional park effort has generated unparalleled support from elected officials, community planning groups, residents, and others,” says Leslie Reynolds, executive director of Groundwork. “It is an amazing idea whose time has come.”

Groundwork San Diego successfully generated $1.5 million, in partnership with the City and the County, for trail connection between Southcrest and the Bayshore Bikeway. Reynolds believes that the regional park master plan aligns perfectly with Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s focus on bolstering San Diego neighborhoods and on his Climate Actiion Plan for San Diego.

However, the community awareness of the creek is relatively low, said that he didn’t even know about the creek until he became a community leader. One of the major reasons is the poverty within the community made the creek a popular dumping ground and camping field for the homeless.

In a recent Union Tribune article, Ken Marlborough, chairman of the Encanto Community Planning Group had this to say: “I think it would make a big difference in community pride. It   could help us turn the creek back to what it originally was. It’s the right thing to do.”

Read the plan here: Chollas Creek Regional Park PP

Link to the original article: Supporters Build Up Regional Park Plan