Sempra Energy-funded Center for Sustainable Energy’s (CSE) Equinox Project has released its 2016 San Diego Regional Quality of Life Dashboard, which assesses the top economic and environmental indicators to gauge the region’s progress toward sustainability.
The dashboard is a nonpartisan report card that tracks and grades quality of life indicators in 15 categories from data supplied by 28 sources to evaluate livability in the region. This is the seventh edition of the dashboard since the report’s inception in 2009.
Compared to last year, the seventh annual report shows four indicators that have improved significantly, including employment, entrepreneurship, renewable energy and water use, while two indicators showed regression, specifically landfill waste disposal and beach water quality. Among all 15 indicators, six are up, six are down and three remain neutral or report no new data: air quality, cross-border issues and climate change impacts.
For the complete report, including charts and graphs, visit 2016 Quality of Life Dashboard
“The Quality of Life Dashboard provides the community with high-quality, transparent data useful for better understanding the intersection of business, government and the environment in the San Diego region,” said Mary McGroarty, vice-chair and board member for CSE.
“The 2016 dashboard reveals a mixed bag of sustainability and economic trends for the San Diego region, but we’re hopeful policy actions to address climate change will help move the needle in the right direction for those indicators needing improvement,” McGroarty said.
The 2016 Quality of Life Dashboard shows the following improving indicators:
Economy: Venture capital investments increased by more than $333 million during 2015, and 446 new high-tech and life science startups were formed. The local unemployment rate (5.1%) remains lower than the state average (6.1%) and the national average (5.3%). Construction remains the largest employment area with more than 244,000 jobs.
Water Use: The San Diego region responded well to calls for curtailing water consumption in 2015, the fourth year of the ongoing long-term drought. County per capita residential water use decreased by 14 percent.
Energy: Rooftop solar installations continue to increase with new residential systems up by 75 percent from 2014 and commercial systems up by 36 percent, totaling nearly 27,000 new installations in 2015. In the last year, SDG&E met and is on track to exceed, the state-mandated goal of delivering 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources, the first regulated energy company in California to do so.
Areas where the dashboard shows need for improvement:
Landfill Waste: San Diegans threw away 3 percent more landfill thrash in 2015, increasing the amount to nearly 125,000 tons. Many other California counties generate significantly less waste.
Beach Water Quality: While the number of beach advisories increased significantly in 2015 (due largely to increased precipitation), the actual number of beach closures decreased. Areas around Mission Bay, Point Loma and Imperial Beach remain the hotspots for advisories and closures.
“San Diego is improving on many fronts and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished to help protect our environment, increase employment, conserve water and increase renewable energy sources,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
“There’s more work to be done, but as we continue to improve quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors alike, the Equinox Dashboard will help us gauge our progress so that we can preserve and enhance our city for future generations,” Falconer said.
For the second year in a row, a border region indicator was included in the dashboard, reporting continued water quality issues along Tijuana’s beaches and increases in pedestrian, personal vehicle and commercial truck crossings into the U.S. at Tijuana and Otay Mesa.
“Capitalizing on our successes and tracking areas where we need to improve is critical to protecting our natural resources while still growing our economy,” said San Diego City Councilmember David Alvarez. “The lessons we learn from the Equinox Project dashboard help us grow and progress in the right way to build a sustainable city and border region.”
San Diego leaders in a wide variety of policy areas use the dashboard to help understand broad regional trends.
“As San Diego’s energy company we recognize that the decisions of today will impact generations to come,” said SDG&E’s Regional Vice President of External Relations Frank Urtasun. “Improving people’s lives cannot be accomplished without partnership, that’s why we’re proud to have partnered with Equinox Project for so many years, supporting their efforts to inform, inspire and engage San Diego with the Quality of Life Dashboard.”
Local and national data sources for the dashboard include the San Diego County Water Authority, Bureau of Labor Statistics, California Public Utilities Commission, SANDAG, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Census Bureau.